Do strained ties with Qatar mean a blow for Hamas?

Several Middle East experts believe if Qatar forced to sever ties with Hamas, terror organization my face collapse.

Chana Roberts,

Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Hamas terrorists in Gaza
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

An Arab university president on Tuesday warned that the chasm between Qatar and several of its Arab neighbors may harm Hamas.

"Assuming that the Arab states continue to pressure Qatar, Hamas could lose the different forms of political, financial and logistical support it receives from Qatar," Bir Zeit University Vice President Ghassan Khatib said. "That would be really bad news for Hamas."

"If the pressure continues, Qatar most probably would have to make some adjustments regarding its support for Hamas."

Khatib also said the countries' stance against Qatar "indirectly playing into the hands of the Palestinian leadership."

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain officially cut ties with Qatar on Sunday, while Jordan announced a similar move on Tuesday.

Qatar is considered to be one of Hamas' strongest allies, hosting Hamas politicians and providing a safe haven for its members abroad. The country has spent millions of dollars in support of the Gazan terrorist government. In January, when the Palestinian Authority refused to provide Hamas with dependable electricity, Qatar chipped in to the tune of $12 million.

According to the Arab Asharq Al-Awsat news site, "Hamas, a sister movement to the Brotherhood, now fears paying the price of future Qatari-Arab reconciliations, particularly since backing the Brotherhood is one of the major reasons listed by the Arab powers on Monday for severing their diplomatic relations with Qatar."

"Concern has spread to the ranks of Hamas...when the movement started to witness changes in Qatari political support, particularly when Doha officially asked Hamas not to use its territories for directing any activities against Israel, as uncovered by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday.

"On Monday, Palestinian and Israeli sources confirmed that [Hamas Politburo member Saleh] al-Arouri and another official, Moussa Doudine, were expelled from Qatar. Hamas has however denied the reports."

Fellow of the Israel Policy and former Chief Adviser on Foreign Policy Nimrod Novik said, "We don’t know who was instructed to leave and if anyone has been allowed to stay behind. But I would not be surprised if the pressure does not produce a more meaningful reduction in support [to terrorist groups]. But it may come back in the future when Qatar feels emboldened again."

"Hamas would not be able to survive in Gaza or fund its wars with Israel without Qatari funding," former Israeli Ambassador to Qatar Eli Avidar said on Monday. He also noted that even if Hamas survives, "it will be a very different Hamas."

"In order to provide Hamas with anything, you need the cooperation of Egypt or Israel or both and you have neither. The likelihood of Hamas getting anything meaningful is diminished.

"Iran..has no access to Gaza and will find it very difficult to supplement the loss [of funds] from Qatar. Bringing money to Gaza is very difficult when Israel and Egypt won’t allow it. As a result, Hamas is probably in one of the worst spots it has ever been in, and what they worry about most is an Arab spring-like uprising against them.

"We are beginning to see an indication that this is what they are doing and it’s very risky for them. They are encouraging Gaza youths to approach the Israeli border in protest, and we see the numbers increasing each day in an effort to provoke an Israeli reaction called the strategic corporal. It refers to a corporal on the line who opens fire when hundreds of protesters threaten to cross the border – and then it becomes a strategic development."