Qatari official: Hamas and Israel negotiating indirectly

Qatari diplomat says there are indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel in an attempt to reach a deal on Gaza.

Elad Benari,

Border crossing into Gaza
Border crossing into Gaza
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

A Qatari diplomat said on Sunday there are indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel in an attempt to reach a deal to end crises in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

"The U.S. administration knows about the talks," the official, Mohammed al-Amadi, told the Xinhua news agency.

Al-Amadi, who is in a visit to Gaza, said no deal has been reached so far, but added that negotiations are still ongoing to reach a comprehensive deal to improve the situation in the coastal enclave.

Gaza has been placed under an Israeli naval blockade ever since the Hamas terrorist group seized the territory from Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah in 2007.

Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last October, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December 1.

That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and had later reportedly hit “obstacles”.

The Qatari official said on Sunday the United States has recently proposed projects for Gaza, which will provide basic services such as electricity, desalination of drinking water, work and rehabilitation of the industrial zone in the area.

Al-Amadi said that the projects were presented by U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner during his recent Middle East tour, which included Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

"We demanded lifting the blockade on Gaza, which suffered three wars ... we highlighted to the Americans and Israelis the need to achieve this, and we are working on this matter, but so far we have not reached any results," he told Xinhua.

Qatar is one of the biggest suppliers of aid to Gaza. Al-Amadi recently acknowledged in an interview that cooperation with Israel is needed in order to improve the situation in Gaza.

"When you want to do work in Gaza, you have to go through the Israelis. Without the help of Israel, nothing happens," he told The Associated Press in February.

"This is part of our effort, working very closely with Israel, very closely with everyone in Gaza, to prevent any more escalation and war. We want peace in the region, and to help the people," he added.

Al-Amadi told Xinhua on Sunday that any solutions for Gaza must be agreed to by the Palestinian Authority.

"We will not interfere without the consent and the presence of the Palestinian Authority," he stressed.

During his current visit to Gaza, al-Amadi announced the distribution of a grant of $2.5 million to Gaza universities in addition to his country's donation of the same value as medical supplies to hospitals.

"We are looking for a permanent solution to the problems of Gaza and we want to prevent any new war against the enclave," the Qatari diplomat said, adding that he was told by Hamas and Israel that they are not interested in a new war.

"But we have agreed with Hamas and Israel that in the event of a war, our projects will not be targeted unless they were used by Hamas," he added.