Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal speaks during a news conference in Doha, Qatar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel's former emissary in Qatar, Eli Avidar, said on Monday that the wealthy Gulf nation was an essential lifeline for Hamas and its terrorist operations.
"Hamas would not be able to survive in the Gaza Strip or fund its wars with Israel without Qatari funding," he told local radio station 103 FM.
Avidar's remarks came hours after several Arab and Muslim states decided to sever ties with Doha
, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East.
Gulf nations cut ties with Qatar (credit: REUTERS)
The decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, with Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joining in later, created a dramatic rift among the Arab nations, many of which are in OPEC.
The coordinated move dramatically escalates a simmering dispute over Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha even backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.
"Israel will be tempted to use the current diplomatic situation to force Qatar to use its influence on Hamas. This is mistake. What is happening now is a dramatic world-changing turn of events," said Avidar, who currently serves as the Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute.
"Qatar is a small country, imagine Givatayim by Israeli standards. Imagine that residents of Givatayim wouldn't be allowed to go to Ramat Gan or Tel Aviv, this is dramatic in terms of economics," he asserted in the scope of central Israeli cities in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. "Eight-hundred thousand foreign residents will leave Qatar in a short time, this is political earthquake."
"What's important to understand is that the [Qatari] king is young leader who took out all those who were close to his father and is now left totally alone to deal with the current situation," Avidar told the Tel Aviv-area radio station. "He is in total panic right now and will try to do anything reconcile with the leaders of the neighboring countries. He will use American companies based in Qatar to pressure the White House."
Avidar served as a foreign policy advisor in 1999 to then foreign minister Ariel Sharon. From 1999 to 2001, Avidar was head of the Israeli Trade Representation Office in Doha. Reuters contributed to this report.