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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Gargash criticises Qatar over secret meeting with Israel 

The UAE minister says Doha and Tel Aviv's relations are 'mutual benefits'

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash. AP Photo
The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash. AP Photo

Dr Anwar Gargash criticised Qatar on Thursday following Israeli reports of a secret meeting in Cyprus between top officials from Doha and Tel Aviv.

In a strongly worded statement on Twitter, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that Qatar has contradicted itself by spreading "rumours" that its neighbours are normalising relations with Israel while it has had direct contact with officials in Tel Aviv.

Israeli news site Walla revealed on Wednesday that Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani held secret talks in June.

“It’s strange that Qatar and its media who spread rumours about its neighbours' attempts to normalise relations with Israel, while there is documented evidence that Doha has been in direct contact with officials in Tel Aviv on the issue of Gaza," Dr Gargash said.

"Where is Al Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood and [Youssef] Al Qaradawi on the normalisation of relations? It is of mutual benefit," Dr Gargash added.

Qatar maintains publicly that it has no diplomatic ties or contact with Israel, but Dr Gargash rubbished those claims on Thursday.

The meeting between Mr Lieberman and Mr Al Thani took place on the sidelines of talks between the Israeli minister and his Cypriot and Greek counterparts on the possibility of constructing a seaport for Gaza as part of a ceasefire proposal between Israel and Hamas in the coastal enclave where both have fought three wars in the last decade.

The report cited an Israeli official who said it was “certainly possible and necessary” for Mr Lieberman to travel abroad to meet with Mr Al Thani.

Meanwhile, Israeli Channel 10 TV reported last week that a secret meeting took place in Cyprus between Mr Lieberman and Mohamad Al Ammadi, Qatar’s envoy to Palestine.

Qatar has been involved with Egypt in mediation attempts between the Israelis and Palestinians over Gaza.

But no truce has been confirmed by both sides. Israel prefers the Egyptian role in the Gaza mediation attempts to those of Qatar, which has hosted Hamas’s political leaders in Doha. Egypt also controls one of the crossings into the territory.

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The efforts come after weekly Palestinian protests in Gaza since March 30 against the Israeli siege of the territory.

Israeli snipers have killed more than 130 Palestinians, many of them unarmed, and wounded hundreds more after mostly targeting their lower limbs with an aim to maim those rallying against the country's policies.