Palestinian officials on Tuesday accused Qatar of working toward establishing a “separate Palestinian state” in the Gaza Strip and called for the expulsion of the emirate’s envoy, Mohammed Al-Emadi.
Some officials described the Qatari envoy as the “military commander of the Gaza Strip” and the “new high commissioner” - a reference to United Kingdom’s High Commissioner during the British Mandate for Palestine and Transjordan.
The accusations came after Al-Emadi was quoted as saying that he had proposed the establishment of an airport in the Gaza Strip, but had received no response from Israel.
“They (Israel) said it would be discussed and they procrastinated..We will renew our request,” he told a Gaza-based news agency. “The Israeli side had security concerns and we told them we can resolve them by having the planes fly to Doha and return to Gaza from there and under Qatari security supervision.”
Last week, Al-Emadi delivered the second payment of $15 million Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip - a move that has also drawn sharp criticism from a number of Palestinian officials, including top PLO officials in Ramallah.
“Qatar is seeking to create a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip as part of an Israeli and American scheme to destroy the Palestinian national project,” a senior advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas told The Jerusalem Post. “Qatar’s actions are aimed at paving the way for the implementation of US President Donald Trump’s deal of the century.”
The “deal of the century” refers to Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East. The PA, Hamas and other Palestinian groups have rejected the unseen plan and denounced it as a “conspiracy designed to liquidate the Palestinian cause and establish an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The official said that Abbas was “following with deep concern" Qatar’s increased meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Qatar, the official argued, is “consolidating divisions among the Palestinians and playing a very suspicious role in the region.”
Commenting on the Qatari envoy’s proposal to build an airport in the Gaza Strip, PLO official Mohammed Majdalani said that this was an “assault on Palestinian sovereignty.”
Majdalani accused Qatar of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. “Our brothers in Qatar are unaware of the repercussions and dangers of this intervention in Palestinian internal affairs,” he told the Palestinian news source Al-Watan Voice. “They are unaware that their interference will deepen divisions among the Palestinians.”
The PLO official called on Qatar to reconsider its “harmful and unacceptable policy.” He added that “if Qatar cares about Palestine, ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state, it should not meddle in our affairs. The PLO’s policy is not to intervene in the internal affairs of any party. This intervention emboldens Hamas and encourages it to reject efforts to achieve national reconciliation [with Fatah]. It also encourages Hamas to become part of the deal of the century.”
Munir Al-Jaghoub, a senior Fatah official, also accused Qatar of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by proposing the building of an airport in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians, he said, are categorically opposed to this form of intervention. “Obviously, matters are moving in an unsound direction with regards to dealing with the Palestinian cause,” the Fatah official added.
Al-Jaghoub said that if Qatar really wanted to help the Palestinians, it should work toward establishing a passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip "in order to reconnect the Palestinians with each other." The proposed airport, he complained, will further separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
Mahmoud Al-Zaq, a senior representative of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, a small group that is affiliated with the PLO, also accused Qatar of working toward establishing a “separate Palestinian political entity” in the Gaza Strip. Qatar, he claimed, was also seeking to create an alternative to the PLO, the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
Al-Zaq told an online newspaper in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that Qatar’s goal was to help pass “suspicious schemes” against the Palestinians.
In June 2017, the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
“Qatar and its envoy, Al-Emadi, are exploiting the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip to pass American and Israeli schemes,” Al-Zaq charged. “The Qatari funds have prolonged the life of the Palestinian split [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip] and seek to turn it into separation. This is a dangerous attempt that should be confronted by the Palestinians and Arabs. Qatar is the US administration’s tool for passing the suspicious deal of the century."
Hassan Asfour, a former PA minister and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, called on the Hamas leadership to expel Al-Emadi, whom he described as the “new overall military commander of the Gaza Strip.”
The Hamas leadership, he said, “should expel this military commander, who is also acting as a high commissioner and broker,” Asfour said in an article published by the Palestinian website Amad. “This high commissioner is playing a decadent role, and the Palestinians have ever permitted anyone to play such a role.”
Asfour said that Al-Emadi has become Hamas’s “chief negotiator” with Israel. He also lashed out at Hamas over its “silence” regarding the proposed airport. “This silence proves that the idea is acceptable to Hamas, and that he is officially authorized to negotiate on behalf of Hamas with Israel to reach a political arrangement behind the back of the Palestinians. The Hamas leadership should ask him to leave the Gaza Strip immediately and not to return.”
Walid Al-Awad, a senior representative of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party, called on the Palestinians to declare Al-Emadi persona non grata. “High Commissioner Mohammed Al-Emadi is acting as if the Gaza Strip was a Qatari protectorate,” he said.