The emir in Gaza

Qatar's emir is clearly meddling in the intra-Palestinian squabble, putting his full political weight behind the utterly rejectionist Hamas.

Qatari emir greeted in Gaza by Haniyeh 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Qatari emir greeted in Gaza by Haniyeh 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
If it did anything, the landmark visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on Tuesday exposed a slew of widespread regional fallacies.
First looms the contention of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh that the visit ended the political and economic blockade of Gaza. This is vitally important, coming as it does days after another ship hired by radical leftists, the Estelle, attempted to sail from Europe to Gaza to break the blockade that, as Haniyeh himself attests, does not exist.
Hamas and its global coterie of cheerleaders cannot have it both ways. There either is a blockade or there is not. Truth cannot be adjusted to whatever they find convenient at any particular juncture.
One fact stands out incontrovertibly. The emir entered Gaza via the Strip’s border with Egypt. Those members of the international community who bewail the supposed “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza should finally admit that the Strip is not surrounded and enclosed by Israel.
Whatever demands are made of Israel can just as vehemently be addressed to Egypt.
Given that the premise used to blame Israel and to build a case for Gazan hardship does not stand up to scrutiny, it follows logically that no humanitarian emergency exists in Gaza.
Consequent to this is the persistent presentation of Gaza as a territory still under Israeli occupation, despite the fact that there has been no Israeli presence there since the 2005 disengagement. Gaza has shown itself to have evolved from the Palestinian Authority’s annex into what is for all intents and purposes a state in its own right. This de facto state is furthermore a warlike entity, armed to the teeth with all variety of weaponry, all directed against Israel. Gaza is hardly the vulnerable “concentration camp” that spin-meisters allege.
The visit has also exposed PA President Mahmoud Abbas as a fraud in his claim that he represents the entire Palestinian population with an unshakable mandate to negotiate in its name. If Abbas represents anyone, it is at most Fatah’s Ramallah fragment. He does not speak for Gaza.
Indeed the Qatari visit, the first by a head of state since Hamas seized power in 2007, allowed Gaza to eclipse Ramallah and demonstrate that the post-Arab-Spring rise of the Muslim Brotherhood favors Hamas, itself a Brotherhood offshoot.
Israel cannot afford to downplay the Brotherhood’s reinforced impact, via collusion among Gulf State Islamists, the Brotherhood’s new government in Cairo and Hamas. The incendiary potential here must not be belittled.
Finally come discouraging conclusions that Israel might draw regarding the bridges it assiduously tries to build with Arab leaders. In that context, Qatar was an Israeli success story, or so it was widely believed in Jerusalem.
Relations with Doha, especially trade ties, flourished since the mid-’90. They were not formal or full, yet they were hardly covert. Everyone knew about them.
Unnamed Qatari higher-ups had reportedly visited Israel and Shimon Peres, then deputy premier, openly visited Qatar in 2007. Tzipi Livni did the same a year later.
Other Israelis, such as Ehud Barak, met with the emir.
But ties were abrogated after Operation Cast Lead. Qatar offered to restore them if Israel allowed unrestricted shipments of building materials to Gaza. Since these can be used to build bunkers, Israel refused.
But the Qatari transformation is not only Israeli-linked.
Qatar had become the financial sponsor of the Arab Spring, bankrolling assorted Muslim Brotherhood insurgents and their allies. The upheavals shaking the Arabworld were in effect orchestrated by Doha. The emir – despite his excellent personal ties with Israelis, Americans and other Westerners – has used his clout and wealth to bring to power and sustain Islamist forces that are fundamentally inimical to the West, to say nothing of their implacable hatred for the Jewish state.
Now the emir is clearly seen as meddling in the intra-Palestinian squabbles, putting his full political weight behind the utterly rejectionist Hamas that explicitly proclaims its aspiration to destroy Israel. The emir underwrites his support with financial largesse as well.
This puts him in league with particularly fanatic forces.
It gives the lie to Qatar’s purported moderation and peaceful inclinations.