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Qatar-mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas aimed at de-escalating fighting in Gaza continued Saturday, a source briefed on the negotiations said, even as Israel intensified its assault on the enclave.

Talks have not broken down, but they are taking place at a "much slower pace" than before the escalation Friday evening, the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of negotiations.

Gaza's besieged people had barely any communications with the outside world on Saturday as Israeli jets dropped more bombs on the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave and military chiefs said a long-threatened ground offensive was gearing up.

https://www.voanews.com/a/qatar-led-negotiations-between-israel-hamas-ongoing-source-says-/7331245.html

What allows Qatar to be in a uniquely favorable situation to be able to mediate negotiations between Hamas and Israel? Can other countries do the same or not, if not, then what puts them in a favorable situation to do so while others can't do the same?

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2 Answers 2

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There are different ways how a country can become an effective negotiator.

  • A reputation for being relatively neutral, a genuine honest broker, and the ability to talk to both sides. Think of the Oslo Accords. Norway was not truly neutral, being a NATO member, but it was neutral enough that delegations from both sides could meet.
  • The power to pressure or bribe one or more sides into accepting the outcome. The example here are the Camp David Accords. The US was not neutral, but both sides valued their relations with the US.

Qatar would be aiming for the first example. They do talk to Israel and the West, and they do talk to the Palestinians and other Arabs. There are others more or less in the same situation, but Qatar has brokered communications in the past, and this forms a habit of going to Qatar.

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    Really? Qatar is one of the main financers of Gaza. Nov 7, 2023 at 8:50
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    @Fizz Qatar is also a US ally and it is very likely to be the actual financier in funding many of these groups.
    – sfxedit
    Nov 7, 2023 at 9:36
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    @Fizz it's not that simple. it never is in the gulf. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Udeid_Air_Base there are also disagreements within the al thani family what's the best line. and they really hated their airspace closed a while ago Nov 7, 2023 at 10:25
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    @Fizz That's debatable. I would say that Norway position, just like any other european country but Ireland, is twice as much pro-Israel than Qatar is pro-Palestine. Your mileage may vary.
    – Rekesoft
    Nov 7, 2023 at 10:48
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    @Fizz this answer did not claim Norway was neutral. It claimed Norway is held to be a good faith facilitator by many states. Note the word "NATO" in the answer. This is also the role Qatar has been playing for a while. ISIS aside, most countries will find it convenient to keep back channels open for negotiations and a policy of excessive Puritanism isn't always productive. Nov 7, 2023 at 16:12
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Despite its relatively small size, Qatar is strongly involved in middle eastern politics. The country is ruled by the Al Thani family.

The previous emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in power (1995–2013) was a supporter of the Arab Spring in various countries, and was accused by its neighbors of supporting terrorism:

"The news agency released a statement in which it accused Qatar of “harbouring a multitude of terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to create instability in the region" . (Al Jazeera)

and

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties last month with the uber-rich Gulf state of Qatar, which shares the world’s largest reservoir of gas with Iran, Riyadh’s hated rival. The bloc accuses Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge it denies.

The blockade attempts to cut Qatar off from the rest of the world: the land border has been sealed, Qatari overflights banned and shipping lanes closed. The Saudi-led coalition issued 13 demands to lift the blockade, which included shutting al-Jazeera, the TV voice of the Arab spring, and dropping support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite US intervention, little has been resolved. (The Guardian)

and

In the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, Qatar fell out with some of its Arab neighbors after it supported the protesters that sought to overthrow the regimes in several Arab nations. Ties further deteriorated when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in mid-2017, accusing the country of supporting terrorism, which Qatar repeatedly denied. It took years for the countries to patch up relations. (CNN)

At the same time, Qatar is also maintains an US airbase near Doha.

There were some disagreements within the Al-Thani family itself.

They're trusted by 'revolutionary' organizations like the Hamas, which has had an office in Qatar since 2012 and also receives substantial financial support, and is maintaining public relations with various countries from there, i.e.:

The chairman of the political Ismail Haniyeh burea also holds meeting with Iranian representatives in Qatar (Iran International)

Despite the support for Hamas, the tone of the articles of the Al-Thani founded Al-Jazeera, indicates that Qatar tries to appear impartial in their support for the Palestinian people:

"Qatar’s foreign minister has said the presence of political leaders belonging to the Gaza-based Palestinian group Hamas in Doha is “coordinated with the US” and aimed at facilitating Palestinian unity. " (AJ)

It appears that the current emir, Sheikh Tamim ibn Hamad Al Thani having access to the Hamas leadership, and currently is pursuing a more subtle policy, which allows him to play a vital role in the current negotiations in which Hamas, Egypt, US and Israel are involved. (CNN) .

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  • FWTW, (Qatar-based) Al-Jazeera says that Hamas presence is with US blessing or even at their request. "David Petraeus, former CIA chief and army general, said: “Our partners should remember that Qatar – at our request – welcomed delegations from the Taliban and Hamas”." Nov 7, 2023 at 16:11
  • and a bit more light reading for those interested swp-berlin.org/10.18449/2023RP04 Nov 7, 2023 at 16:52
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    @Fizz the US "gotta love the vulnerable but rich gulf countries tryna navigate between US support and Pan-Arabism" :) Nov 7, 2023 at 16:54
  • Yeah nowadays there's more than one GC drifting that way. According to Saudi TV Israel has [effectively] already nuked Gaza youtube.com/watch?v=fFJH1khy51g :/ Nov 7, 2023 at 17:15

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