Palestinians on Wednesday expressed anger over statements attributed to a senior Qatari diplomat to the effect that Hamas and Israel were holding “indirect talks” to end the crisis in the Gaza Strip.Some Palestinians accused the Qatari official, Mohammed al-Emadi, of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people, while others called for declaring him pesona non grata.
They claimed that Qatar was working together with Israel and the US administration to impose President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East on the Palestinians.Al-Emadi serves as chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.In an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua earlier this week, the Qatari diplomat was quoted as saying that the US administration “knows abut the talks” between Hamas and Israel. He said that although no deal has been reached between the two sides, the negotiations were ongoing and aimed at reaching a “comprehensive deal to resolve the crisis in the Gaza Strip.”Al-Emadi said that the US recently presented initiatives for the Gaza Strip as part of Trump’s upcoming peace plan. The initiatives, he added, call for improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the enclave.Hamas spokesperson Ismail Radwan said in response that his movement was not holding any direct or indirect talks with Israel. Hamas has still not received any proposals regarding the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, he added. Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday also denied that his movement was engaged in any kind of negotiations with Israel. He said, however, that Hamas was prepared to accept any initiatives to improve the economic and humanitarian conditions of the Palestinians, “but without a political price.”“There are no direct or indirect talks between Hamas and Israel,” Hamad said. “Hamas rejects the Trump plan, which is known as ‘the deal of the century.’ Hamas stands with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas in his opposition to the Trump plan.”A group in the Gaza Strip called “the Resistance Committees in Palestine” lashed out at the top Qatari envoy and accused him of being in collusion with the US administration and some Arab countries to market the “deal of the century.”“The blood of our Palestinian people is more precious than the projects of al-Emadi,” the group, which consists of various Palestinian factions, said in a statement. “Al-Emadi needs to know that our people’s project of liberation cannot be traded for humanitarian aid.”The group also accused the Qatari diplomat of seeking to install himself as a “guardian” on the Gaza Strip and a “broker” for international initiatives.Jamal al-Batrawi, a representative of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, a relatively small PLO faction, said that al-Emadi’s statements were “compatible with the American vision to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”Al-Batrawi told the Palestinian news agency Al-Ain that the “era of suspicions meddling in the Palestinian cause was over. You [the Qatari diplomat] are not welcome in the Gaza Strip and neither are your inhumane and politicized projects that serve the enemies of the Palestinian people.” He added: “The blood of our people is invaluable and cannot be sold or bought.” Another PLO faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said in response that the Trump administration was trying to market its “suspicious” plan to the Palestinians through its “agents.”Walid Awad, member of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s parliament, called for expelling al-Emadi from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and described him as the “High Commissioner to the Palestinian Territories.”The Qatari ambassador has breached all diplomatic rules, Awad told the Palestinian news site Donia Al-Watan. “It’s time for him to hear that he’s persona non grata.” He accused Qatar of playing the role of “patron” for the “Israeli-American scheme in the region.”He also claimed that al-Emadi’s statements “represented the essence” of the Trump plan for peace, which, he said, has been rejected by the Arab countries.Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction has used the Qatari ambassador’s statements to accuse its rivals in Hamas of working towards striking a “suspicious deal” with Israel.Fatah spokesperson Osama Qawassmeh accused Hamas of “national treason” for purportedly conducting negotiations with Israel. Hamas, he charged, was seeking to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.Another Fatah official, Atef Abu Seif, accused both Qatar and Hamas of conspiring against the Palestinian issue.“The talk about talks between Hamas and Israel and the US administration about the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip is very worrying and dangerous,” he said. “This talk comes at a time when efforts are intensifying to thwart ‘the deal of the century,’ which aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause. Hamas needs to be honest and clear about its position towards ‘the deal of the century.’”
Kushner says U.S. peace plan coming soon after Middle East visit, June 24, 2018 (Reuters)