Qatar's foreign minister, who has led a policy of opening contacts with Israel even while keeping close to Palestinian militants, was sworn in Tuesday as the Gulf nation's new prime minister. Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al Thani was appointed to the post by the emir, Qatar's ruler, after his predecessor resigned, the state news agency said. Sheik Hamad, who will also retain the foreign minister position, has long been considered the architect of Qatar's maverick diplomacy, which sought to carve out a prominent role for the country despite its small size, effectively by dealing with all sides. In 2005, he met with Israel's foreign minister in New York, the first such public encounter between a high-level Gulf diplomat and Israel. Qatar is home to Israel's only diplomatic mission in the Gulf - a trade mission. In January, Deputy Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Qatar and held talks with the emir, who told Peres that Israel should negotiate with Hamas. Peres rejected the idea.