A senior Qatari official has denied that Doha is financially supporting Hamas and its efforts in Gaza, assertions made by a growing number of Israeli officials.
In an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson that aired yesterday, Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah said, “Qatar does not support Hamas, Qatar supports the Palestinians.”
His response came after Israel’s economics minister Naftali Bennett this week said Qatar should lose the 2022 World Cup for funding “radical Islam(ic) terror.”
Israel has also insinuated that a peace deal proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry was soft on Hamas in part because of Qatar’s influence.
Israel prefers to deal with Egypt, which had proposed a ceasefire weeks ago that Hamas rejected because they said they were not invited to the negotiation table.
Qatar is home base to Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal, but Al Attiyah denied that his government was funding the building of the rockets sent by Hamas into Israel.
However, he added that Hamas was democratically elected by the people of Gaza in 2006, and that Israel had a chance to appeal to the pragmatic side of the party, but failed to do so.
Al Attiyah also accused Israel of practicing terrorism, referencing the hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children, killed in the country’s latest military operation.
When asked where Hamas was getting the money to fund its rockets, the FM suggested Anderson ask the political party itself.
In regards to the half billion dollars Qatar pledged in 2012 to help rebuild Gaza’s schools, hospitals and roads, Al Attiyah pointed out that the work was being conducted with Fatah contractors.
Fatah is the political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and it and Hamas were in talks to form a unity government before the latest bombing campaign began.
Some analysts have said that Israel began the bombing campaign in part to derail these talks.
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Al Attiyah is the foreign minister, and not the prime minister, of Qatar.