What Did Qatar Know about the Hamas Attacks, and When Did It Know It?

Earlier this month, a mainstream Jewish organization announced that it was planning a “gathering” outside the Qatari embassy in Washington, demanding it pressure Hamas to release hostages. The demonstration was subsequently cancelled due to inclement weather, but it has not been rescheduled and the webpage with details about the gathering has been taken down. One can only hope that the organizers were not dissuaded by the Gulf emirate’s massive influence operation in the West (including over $1 million in donations to New York City public schools), which it has already used to discourage the families of hostages from taking such measures. Given the fact that Qatar funds and hosts Hamas, provides it with diplomatic cover, and propagandizes on its behalf, it certainly has leverage over the organization. It is also likely to be embarrassed by public demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Doha has continued to portray itself as a helpful interlocutor, reportedly proposing another ceasefire deal this week, which appears to have fallen through already. Matthew Karnitschnig raises an even more troubling possibility:

In a series of conversations with Politico in recent weeks, Western intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said that while they have no hard evidence, there are indications the emirate may have known more about the October 7 attack than it has let on.

The primary motivation Qatar would have had to remain silent if it caught wind of the attack, the intelligence officials said, was its interest in derailing talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a regional rival, over normalizing relations.

An agreement between the two largest economies in the region could have opened the door to strategic cooperation across a host of areas, including natural gas, Qatar’s lifeblood. Given Israel’s direct access to the Mediterranean and European markets, any energy collaboration with Saudi Arabia would be a game changer.

I’m always cautious about putting too much stock in anonymous reports from unnamed intelligence officials. Yet even if the worst allegations aren’t true, Qatar’s support for Hamas is a fact. And this should make the U.S. reconsider the results of what Karnitschnig calls Doha’s “decades-long effort to make itself an indispensable partner to all sides of the Middle East equation.”

Read more at Politico

More about: American Jewry, Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Qatar, U.S. Foreign policy


Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood