December 9, 2018

Ex-Leader of Qatar Recognizes Israel’s Right to Exist

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made history on April 2 by recognizing Israel’s right to exist in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Now, a former Arab leader is following suit in this recognition of Israel.

Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar, tweeted on April 4, “Israelis have a right to live in their land in peace and safety, this is my conviction. I’ve had this conviction for many long years, and I still do.”

Despite this statement, Al Thani added that Qatar needs to do a better of job advocating of the rights of Palestinians and that the country needs to improve its diplomatic relations in the region.

“We need one who will rise among us from the defeat and shame that our nation is experiencing,” Al Thani said. “We are not interested in saying things just to impress others.”

Like Saudi Arabia, Qatar has been a funder of Islamic terror groups – specifically Hamas, in the case of Qatar – which is what makes these latest statements from Salman and Al Thani so noteworthy.

Qatar has been attempting to make inroads with the pro-Israel community over the past couple of months, hosting notable figures such as Alan Dershowitz and Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Mort Klein.

As a February Jerusalem Post article explains, Qatar’s sudden warmth toward the pro-Israel crowd is likely due to the fact that the Gulf Arab nation is feeling diplomatically isolated after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cut ties with Qatar over their funding of terrorism and growing ties with Iran. Consequently, Qatar has reached a point of desperation to where it needs to earn credibility with the United States and Israel.

The Post article goes into detail how Qatar’s shift has caused a rift in the pro-Israel community.

“On one side are those who argue that Qatar is attempting to use Jews, particularly pro-Israel Jewish leaders, to whitewash its image,” the Post’s Seth Frantzman reported. “It isn’t changing and Hamas is still hosted in Qatar, as well as other extremists and anti-Israel voices, such as former Israeli member of Knesset Azmi Bishara and Islamic theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. They point to recent and previous statements by the Israeli Embassy in Washington to Haaretz and Forbes opposing the trips.”

Frantzman continued, “Those who support the Qatari initiative say that there is an opportunity here, now that Doha is isolated, to get them to change. They argue Qatar has little leverage over Hamas and if Doha was able to get Hamas to release Israelis held in Gaza, it would merely prove Qatar’s influence. Therefore Doha’s inability to move on some key pro-Israel concerns is evidence that it isn’t close to Hamas.”

Al Thani’s recent tweets seem to be reflective of these developments between Qatar and the pro-Israel community.

Regardless, the timing of Salman’s statement to Goldberg and Al Thani’s tweets cannot be ignored; Salman’s recognition of Israel could be seen down the road as a watershed moment for Arab leaders recognizing the Jewish state’s right to exist.