Qatar Says It Will Host Hamas as Long as It Is ‘Useful and Positive’ to Do So

5 May 2021, Qatar, Doha: Hamas' political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a rall
(Mahmoud Hefnawy/dpa (Photo by Mahmoud Hefnawy/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Islamist government of Qatar confirmed on Tuesday that it is open to continuing to host the leadership of the jihadist terror organization Hamas as long as doing so is “useful and positive.”

Qatar has offered safe haven and extravagant hotel lodgings to Hamas’s most senior leaders since 2012. While Hamas is the government of the disputed Gaza Strip, its top “political” leaders live in Doha. Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas “political” leader, is believed to be worth over $4 billion and he and his family often show off their wealth.

“He [Haniyeh] and his associates have been photographed flying in private jets, enjoying fine dining, and attending international sporting events,” the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) observed in January.

Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari was responding on Tuesday to questions about other senior leaders in Doha expressing frustration with the lack of progress in Qatari-hosted talks between Hamas and the government of Israel.

DOHA, QATAR — Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar on November 24, 2023. (Iranian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The talks followed the brutal Hamas invasion and murder, rape, and torture spree within Israel on October 7. Hamas killed an estimated 1,200 people on that day and took 250 hostages, of which 133 are believed to remain in terrorist captivity.

Following October 7, Qatar hosted multiple rounds of discussions between Hamas and Israel intended to result in the liberation of the hostages. Those talks have stalled, however, and the Qataris grumbled last week that their country had experienced unspecified “exploitation and abuse” from “politicians” looking to promote themselves at the expense of the reputation of Qatar. As a result, Doha was “reevaluating” its role as a mediator, officials said.

Ansari clarified on Tuesday that the alleged “exploitation and abuse” in question came from Israel, whose leaders had questioned the friendly ties between Doha and the terrorists who had just invaded the country. Qatar is still reevaluating its position as mediator, he said, but not expecting to evict the wealthy Hamas leadership in Doha anytime soon.

“As long as their presence here in Doha, as we have always said, is useful and positive in this mediation effort, they will remain here,” Ansari said, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“As long as Qatar’s mediation efforts continue, there is no justification for the end [of] the presence of the Hamas political bureau in Doha,” the Qatari outlet al-Jazeera quoted Ansari as saying. “This office was opened – in coordination with the United States – for the purpose of mediation between both sides. As of now, nothing has changed in that regard.”

Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (3rd-R) waves upon his arrival at a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

File/Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (3rd-R) waves upon his arrival at a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas’ founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty)

Ansari also accused “ministers in Netanyahu’s government” of needlessly antagonizing Qatari, without offering examples of the alleged disrespect.

“We have deep frustration with such statements especially from Israeli officials familiar with our mediation efforts and humanitarian work in Gaza,” al-Jazeera quoted him as saying. “Attacking the mediator does not show commitment. And this is what we are getting from our Israeli counterparts. We’ve been accused of having ulterior motives. This is simply untrue.”

“They all know what the Qatari role is, its nature, and its details during the previous stage and they lied,” Ansari concluded.

Qatar enjoys a unique position in the Middle East that allows it to maintain close ties to terrorists such as Hamas and the Afghan Taliban, which it hosted for years before the jihadists seized Kabul as a result of President Joe Biden’s failures in 2021, while also hosting a U.S. military base. Biden elevated ties with Qatar to “major non-NATO ally” status in 2022, a privilege Republicans in Congress have challenged after Qatar refused to abandon Hamas following the October 7 atrocities.

Apparently undermining Ansari’s claims to Qatar being a neutral mediator in the ongoing crisis, Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – an unabashed supporter of Hamas who met with Haniyeh on Saturday – said that the Qatari government viewed Hamas as “family.”

“The sincerity they [Qatar] have towards them [Hamas], their stance toward them, has always been like a member of the family,” Erdogan said on Tuesday, according to al-Jazeera. “In the coming period, I absolutely do not think it is possible for them to change this approach.”

The suspected offending comments from Israel that outraged the Qatari government included remarks in January in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly called Doha “problematic.”

“Qatar, as far as I’m concerned, is not significantly different from the UN, is not significantly different from the Red Cross, and to some extent it’s even more problematic,” Netanyahu allegedly said.

Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani announced last week that his country was entering “a complete re-evaluation of its role” as a go-between for Hamas and Israel.

Ismail Haniyeh

Ismail Haniyeh Head of the Hamas Political Bureau, during the work of the 8th Ordinary Congress of the Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP), in Algiers, Algeria on March 16, 2023 (Amine Chikhi/APP/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“There is exploitation and abuse of the Qatari role,” he claimed, accusing accused “politicians” of “trying to conduct election campaigns by slighting the State of Qatar.”

While Ansari stated on Tuesday that Qatar was upset with Israeli politicians, al-Thani’s remarks followed the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in early April to strip Qatar of its status as a “major non-NATO ally.”

“Major Non-NATO Ally status is a privilege and countries like Qatar must continuously earn,” Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC), who co-sponsored the bill, said at the time. “Failure to take action against Hamas is beginning to look like tacit support for a foreign terrorist organization designated by the United States.”

The Qatari embassy in Washington condemned the bill as “reckless.”

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