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Monday, May 16, 2011

Qatar to become mediator for Gilad Shalit?

French media are reporting that Prime MiniLinkster Netanyahu met in Paris last week with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. One of the items on the agenda was the price for the release of kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit (Hat Tip: Sultan AlQassemi via Twitter). (Link in French, English translation here).
1. Duck chained: Netanyahu had secretly met with the Prime Minister of Qatar Prime Minister Netanyahu would, during his visit to Paris, secretly met with the Prime Minister of Qatar. So says the French weekly Le Canard chains.

The newspaper said after his meeting with President Sarkozy, Mr Netanyahu would be returned to the palace of the Elysee Palace by a back door to attend a confidential meeting with President Sarkozy and Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.

Also according to the weekly meeting focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the attempts that are made to reach a market on the release of Gilad Shalit.

If this information is true, it would be a turning point in relations between the two countries, Qatar has severed relations with Israel and closed the Israeli representation in Doha in 2009.

According to the Haaretz daily, during the past year, Qatar has sent at least two occasions messages to Israel to move to restore relations between the two countries in exchange for the implementation of projects and the introduction of construction materials into Gaza. These proposals have however been rejected by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

These days, there were reports of preliminary contacts between Israel and Qatar regarding the purchase of natural gas to solve the problems of supply Egyptian gas. These reports were denied by Israel.
The article goes on to say that Egypt is trying to reassume the role of mediator now that they 'successfully' brought Hamas and Fatah back together and Hamas has rejected German mediation of the Shalit case. According to the article, Egypt believes that there is nothing to be gained by arguing over the number and identity of 'Palestinian' terrorists to be released (which may well be correct) and instead it wants Israel to pay in the currency of opening the Rafah crossing into Gaza and/or supplying Hamas with items that are in short supply like concrete with which to make bunkers.

Netanyahu has not yet decided whether he is willing to talk on the Egyptians' terms. The Qataris - if they are willing to challenge Egypt - could provide a way out of that dilemma.

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