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Monday, March 30, 2009

Gilad Shalit to be transferred to Qatar?

On Sunday, I reported on some of the people who are present at the Arab League Summit in Doha, Qatar. I did not report on who wasn't present, because Israel Radio's correspondent (yes, there is one there) reported that we would not know for sure until Monday morning who was coming and who was not. The correspondent did in fact mention that Egypt would probably not be coming, and I assumed, as others probably did, that was because of Qatar's support for Hamas (during Operation Cast Lead, there were two summits, one in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt and one in Doha, Qatar, with markedly different attendance). Haaretz actually has a different explanation for why Egypt is not at Doha:
Egypt is to be represented at the summit by a very low-level official after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit declined to participate, reportedly due to anger at Qatar for making overtures to Hamas. Egypt has demanded Qatar not invite Iranian President Mohammed Ahmadinejad to the summit, and stop its criticism of Egypt on the Al-Jazeera network, which began after Operation Cast Lead.
So much for the Arab theme of 'unity' for the current Arab League summit.

But Israel Radio this morning fills in the blanks in the 'overtures to Hamas.' It seems that Egypt is angry at Qatar for offering Hamas 'unlimited funds' to transfer kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit to Qatar rather than to Egypt - presumably (although this is left unsaid) as an intermediate phase in an exchange of Shalit for hundreds of Hamas terrorists. Israel Radio bases itself on a report in Lebanon's al-Akhbar newspaper which is basing itself on French sources. Israel Radio just repeated the report on its 9:00 am newscast.

Is Hamas being bribed to replace Egypt as the intermediary with Israel? If so, Egypt has plenty to be angry about. Egypt is one of only two countries at 'peace' with Israel - the other is Jordan. Israel has lower-level diplomatic representation in Qatar (I believe it's an 'interests section'). Egypt is a more natural interlocutor.

But more importantly, Egypt shares a border with Israel. Qatar does not. Egypt does not want another Arab country interfering in its relations with Hamas. And for good reason from its perspective.


At 10:21 AM, Blogger Ashan said...

This whole thing is a sick, cynical manipulation of an innocent human being (Shalit) who has never even had a single visit by the IRC or any outcry from any international "human rights" group and is now a pawn in a repugnant political game of Arab oneupsmanship.

Stupid political considerations prevented the IDF from entering the Israeli-built shelter/basement in Gaza's Shifa during Cast Lead, thus preventing the arrest of Hamas' top-dogs.

Absolutely disgusting. Where's the outrage!

At 10:35 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ashan, no one really knows what Gilad Shalit's fate is. And I doubt he will ever come home. The price Hamas is demanding is just too high for Israel to pay and it would endanger Israel in far more ways than it would ever benefit Shalit.


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