Alwaght- Former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday leaked secret visit by Israeli security officials to Qatar earlier this month.
Lieberman said that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and commander of the Southern Command Herzi Halevi, at the request of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, paid a secret visit to Qatar earlier this month to meet senior representatives of the Persian Gulf Arab emirate.
Walla news, a Hebrew-language Israeli news website, reported that Cohn met with the Qatari national security chief and the national security advisor to the Qatari emir.
Israeli elections and Lieberman support to Gantz
Lieberman resigned from his post last year in protest to Netanyahu's ceasefire deal between Tel Aviv and Hamas, a resistant Palestinian group controlling besieged Gaza Strip.
He argued that such a deal would send a signal of recognizing Hamas, while the solution to the Israeli security problems with the Palestinian group is a massive military operation against the movement.
Under last year’s agreement between the two sides, one of Hamas conditions for a truce was allowing fuel transport to the Gaza power plant and also allowing the transfer of money to pay the salaries of state employees. Qatari ambassador to Palestine in the West Bank said that Qatar accepted to pay the salaries of Gaza employees.
Lieberman appears to seek to influence the election in favor of the Gantz-led Blue and White coalition in the upcoming Israeli elections by leaking the secret trip and revealing that Netanyahu has called on Qatar to continue to inject money into Hamas accounts. Lieberman knows that any concessions made to Hamas by Netanyahu will be negatively viewed by the settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories and this can cut from votes of Netanyahu-led Likud party and give them to Blue and White coalition.
Continuing to pressure Hamas in response to Haniyeh Tehran visit
Although part of the Israeli security delegation’s visit to Qatar is driven by Netanyahu efforts to win the March 2 elections, the trip has other reasons for taking place.
After Haniyah’s January 6 visit to Tehran to attend the funeral ceremony of the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated by the US in Baghdad airport on January 3 and meeting with Iranian officials, Egypt revoked his Gaza entry visa. So, he had to temporarily stay in the Qatari capital Doha.
Earlier, he had said that with regard to the current conditions he may have to stay in Qatar for several months.
On the other side, top Hamas officials recently met Lebanese groups close to Hezbollah, sending a message to Cairo and Tel Aviv that if they continue to press Hamas, the Palestinian movement will move even closer to the Axis of Resistance, starting from Iran and covering Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria.
So, possibly the recent visit by the Israeli officials to Doha may have come to continue the anti-Hamas pressures. Qatar supports Hamas financially and currently hosts Haniyah. The theory is that PM Netanyahu has decided to put further strains on Hamas through pressing the Qatari leaders.
Israelis seek Qatar company with the “deal of the century” initiative
Aware of Qatar-Hamas friendly relations and Doha’s role in Israeli-Hamas equations including the ceasefires, Tel Aviv seems to have decided to continue pressures on the Arab world to approve the Trump’s “deal of the century”, an initiative that recognizes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and drops the Palestinians right to return home in exchange for money offered to Palestinian groups. Tel Aviv now presses to get Qatar on the side of the American president’s plan which has received wide-ranging opposition of the Palestinian and Arab public.
Despite the fact that after the unveiling of the Trump initiative Qatar said that it supports dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians, it seems that Tel Aviv is not satisfied with this Doha stance as it finds it weak and making no difference in favor of the plan. Thus, it asks Qatar to put pressure on the Palestinian group to accept the so-called peace initiative. On the threshold of the general elections, even if Netanyahu’s efforts make small progress, they will serve as a big win card in his hands.