If the U.S. Wants to Help Quell the Violence in Israel, It Should Apply Pressure on Qatar and the Palestinian Authority

While Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed eagerness to prevent the spike in terrorist activity in Israel from spiraling into something worse, it is not clear that the State Department has much of a plan beyond making pious statements and holding meetings. Ehud Yaari puts forth some more concrete suggestions, beginning with exerting pressure on Qatar.

Recently crowned by the U.S. as a major non-NATO ally and preparing to host later this year the prestigious soccer World Cup tournament, this tiny, affluent emirate has become the primary cheerleader for Palestinian terrorism. Not only does the ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, refrain from expressing any criticism of killing sprees on the streets of Israeli cities or speak out against youth turning al-Aqsa courtyard into a scene of violence, but he also directs his media empire led by Al Jazeera to pour oil onto the flames, constantly exacerbating tensions. For years Doha has been hosting and financing Hamas leadership, including many operatives involved in initiating attacks on Israel. The country has become an important link in the supply chain of terrorism.

True, Qatar maintains unofficial ties with Israel, even after 2000 when it closed the Israeli trade bureau in its capital, but it exploits the relations mainly in order to gain permission to channel funds to the Gaza Strip. . . . Sure, Israel sees an advantage in preventing an implosion of the Gaza Strip into dangerous impoverishment. However, it is high time to alter the equation: the U.S. should back Israel serving notice that [these funds] are no longer welcome so long as Qatar persists in encouraging violence. The arrangements for delivering aid should be suspended—not abolished—until Tamim reassesses his attitude.

At the same time, the U.S. should not object to Israel informing Hamas—first quietly and if necessary publicly—that it has to tone down preaching to young Palestinians that their sacred national duty is to carry out acts of terrorism.

Lastly, one might thank President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the half-hearted condemnation he deigned to issue in the wake of the recent terror attacks after repeated requests by the U.S., but this isn’t enough. The PA played a major role in incitement to demonstrate on the Temple Mount, spreading fabricated claims that Israel is seeking to change the status quo there.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Antony Blinken, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, Qatar

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security