Responding to reports that the United States, anxious to facilitate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, “may be looking to Qatar and Turkey to help negotiate an end to the hostilities,” Jonathan Schanzer and David A. Weinberg, respectively vice president for research and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, warn that seeking such aid would be “a huge mistake.”
Schanzer and Weinberg point out:
Since 2011, Qatar has been the home of the aforementioned Khaled Meshal, who runs Hamas’s leadership. During a recent appearance on Qatar’s media network Al Jazeera Arabic, Meshal blessed the individuals who kidnapped and ultimately murdered three Israeli teenagers. He boasted that Hamas was a unified movement and that its military wing reports to him and his associates in the political bureau. American officials have revealed that Qatar also hosts several other Hamas leaders. Israeli authorities reportedly intercepted an individual in April on his way back from meeting a member of Hamas’s military wing in Qatar who gave him money and directives intended for Hamas cells in the West Bank. …
Turkey is also home to Salah Al-Arouri, founder of the West Bank branch of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. He reportedly has been given “sole control” of Hamas’s military operations in the West Bank, and two Palestinians arrested last year for smuggling money for Hamas into the West Bank admitted they were doing so on Al-Arouri’s orders. He is also suspected of being behind a recent surge in kidnapping plots from the West Bank. An Israeli security official recently noted, “I have no doubt that Al-Arouri was connected to the act” of kidnapping that helped set off the latest round of violence between the parties, which has seen hundreds killed and thousands wounded, nearly all of them Palestinians.
Given the support Qatar and Turkey have given Hamas, Schanzer and Weinberg conclude “that America must set the bar higher for the behavior of its allies and not reward them for bad behavior.”
Speaking with NPR this morning, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said that any ceasefire deal must include the complete disarming of Hamas.
One of the results, one would hope, of a cease-fire would be some form of demilitarization, so that again, this doesn’t continue, doesn’t repeat itself. This is what we’ve seen happen multiple times over the past few years, which is these rockets coming from Gaza, which Hamas controls, as well as more recently the tunneling to Israel with terrorists trying to infiltrate Israel. And no country can accept that. So that needs to be the end result of this process.
Blinken’s formulation suggests that the administration is wary of the Qatari-backed ceasefire plan, which doesn’t address the disarmament of Hamas.
Qatar’s support of Hamas has recently prompted charges that it is complicit in Hamas’ war crimes. Qatar also facilitated United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s travel in the Middle East, raising questions over whether it is seeking to engineer ceasefire terms more favorable for Hamas.