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Is Qatar recognizing Israel?

In a wide-ranging interview with Axios on this week, Qatar's foreign minister ruled out the prospect of the Gulf nation normalizing its relations with either Israel or Syria — even as other Arab states take steps to integrate both.

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Qatar has for years had an outsized influence on the international stage by acting as a diplomatic intermediary between the West and its adversaries, including extremist groups like Hamas and the Taliban. But despite its reputation for favoring engagement above all else, Israel and Syria remain red lines.

Abdulrahman al-Thani says Qatar “lost hope” of reaching a treaty with Israel after the 2008 Gaza conflict. Doha continues its “working relationship” with Jerusalem “to help the Palestinian people” but it is “difficult to envision” joining the Abraham Accords “in the absence of a real commitment to a two-state solution.”

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Thani’s point of view

In an interview with the American news website, Thani stated that Qatar “had previously maintained links [with Israel] when there were hopes for peace” with the Palestinians, but that his country “lost hope” following the Gaza conflict of 2008-2009, dubbed Operation Cast Lead.

He said that signing the Abraham Accords “in the absence of a serious commitment to a two-state solution” is “impossible to foresee.” Doha continues its “working relationship” with Jerusalem “to serve the Palestinian people,” he said.

Qatar maintains an ongoing engagement with Israel over aid to the Gaza Strip.

Qatar, a major supporter of Hamas, the terrorist organisation that rules Gaza, has offered $360 million to rebuild the coastal enclave following the last Hamas-Israel confrontation in May 2021.

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Since 2012, the Gulf energy-rich state has poured $1 billion into Gaza

It has been paying Hamas monthly payments totaling $20 million since 2018, largely covering Hamas civil servant salaries and delivering monthly $100 stipends to dozens of needy families.

In Syria, where Qatar armed rebels against Bashar Assad beginning in 2012, Thani said the conditions that led to the regime’s suspension from the Arab League “have not changed” despite the warming of ties between Syria and countries like the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt.

He stressed that Assad should not be rewarded for his continued attacks on his own people, Axios reported.

Touching on the talks between World powers and Iran seeking to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, Qatar’s top diplomat said that Doah “is working hard to bridge any gaps” in the indirect talks held in Vienna.

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He added that Qatar is “very concerned” about the negotiations ending in failure, adding, “We don’t want to see a nuclear race in our region.”