Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt (C), with Tzachi Hanegbi (L), Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation and Palestinian Authority Water head Mazen Ghuneim, in a press conference announcing the Red Sea–Dead Sea canal.

Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi says Qatari diplomats have been meeting with their Israeli counterparts to discuss ways to improve life for Gaza residents.

On Friday, Hanegbi told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM the Qataris “are endeavoring hugely to ensure their aid doesn’t end up as any build-up of a Hamas force… We know this, we are supervising this and we approve of this because they really are doing construction – the construction of neighborhoods.”

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Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi already met with Hanegbi on Feb. 22 during a visit to Jerusalem. At that time, he told Reuters, “If we are helping Hamas, do you think the Israelis [would] allow us to go inside and come out?”

Hanegbi was asked during the interview (on Friday) whether it was possible that Qatar was using its contacts with Israel for public relations purposes, given the current embargo by the four U.S.-allied Arab powers – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. All four cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting Hamas and similar terrorist groups, interfering in their internal affairs and supporting Iran.

“They’re in distress,” replied Hanegbi, “since most of the countries in the Arab world boycott them because they flirt too much with terrorism – with Hamas – with all kinds of episodes that border on subversion.”

Last week, Qatar attended the Gaza Conference hosted by the White House, as did Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Special Representative to International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, thanked them all for “putting all tensions aside to work with us.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.