Qatar has put together a ceasefire proposal to end the fighting between Israel and terrorist groups based in Gaza, a plan that virtually echoes every Hamas demand, an Israeli news site reports.
The Persian Gulf state which owns the Al Jazeera media network is promoting its version of a truce plan over the one mediated by Egypt which the Israeli government accepted last week, but Hamas rejected.
One U.S. congressman has lambasted Al Jazeera for what he described as pro-Hamas coverage during the current 13-day military escalation and linked it to Qatar’s ownership of the station.
The Times of Israel reported that Qatar’s draft document “adopts almost all of Hamas’s demands.”
From the Times of Israel:
The draft stipulates that in exchange for a ceasefire, Israel will free Hamas prisoners who were released in the Gilad Shalit deal and re-arrested recently in the West Bank following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers; Israel will allow construction of a seaport or “sea crossing” in Gaza; Israel will fully open all crossings to Gaza; Egypt will open the Rafah Border Crossing into Egypt 24 hours a day; and Israel will allow Gaza fisherman to venture out 12 nautical miles from the Gaza coast.
Those provisions are considered mostly non-starters for Israel which has spent the past 12 days trying to combat the barrage of more than 1,700 rockets fired at its cities and towns. It’s unlikely Israelis will be amenable anytime soon to loosening restrictions on imports to Gaza after the Israel Defense Forces over the weekend uncovered sophisticated, deep and fortified tunnels, some spanning more than a mile that are being used by Hamas militants to attempt brazen terrorist attacks on Israeli communities along the border.
A Reuters correspondent spoke to an Israeli minister who dismissed the Qatari plan with this sarcastic comment.
"Agreeing to Qatar mediating between us and Hamas would by like agreeing to mediation by Hezbollah or Al Qaida," Israeli minister tells me.
— Dan Williams (@DanWilliams) July 20, 2014
Qatar’s pro-Hamas position in negotiations is unsurprising considering it funds the Palestinian group the U.S. State Department classifies as a foreign terrorist organization.
A senior Qatari source told Reuters, “Qatar will not put any pressure on Hamas to bring down or reduce or change their demands, Qatar is only acting as a communication channel.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were in Qatar Sunday for ceasefire talks. While in Qatar, Abbas was to meet with Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal.
Al Jazeera English was established in 2006 and Al Jazeera America began airing last year; both are owned and funded by the Qatari royal family.
When it launched, Al Jazeera America made an effort to cultivate an image of objectivity. Its website states, “Al Jazeera America is an American news channel reporting unbiased, fact-based and in-depth journalism that gets you closer to the people at the heart of the news.”
Its website states that the Al Jazeera Network is “Known globally for its factual, fair and even-handed coverage.”
How has the Qatari-owned network covered the ceasefire negotiations in which Qatar now has an interest?
On Sunday, Al Jazeera’s website ran an op-ed blaming Israel for using Egypt’s ceasefire proposal last week “as a pretext to intensify and widen its offensive.” It also accused Qatar’s rival Egypt of enabling Israel’s escalated war on Hamas, “deliberately or otherwise.”
“Indeed, Cairo had been criticized from the outset for the sluggish nature of its mediation, leading to speculation that it was happy to see Israel deal a decisive blow to Hamas,” wrote Al Jazeera contributor Sharif Nashashibi.
A news article on Al Jazeera’s website Sunday also blasted Qatar’s rival in the Israel-Hamas ceasefire negotiations.
“Egypt’s faltering mediation in Gaza?” read the headline.
U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) last week took the opportunity of an interview with Al Jazeera America to blast the Qatari-owned network for its anti-Israel and pro-Hamas bias, Breitbart reported.
Sherman observed that every rocket aimed at Israeli civilians is a “war crime” committed by Hamas, “and of course, the owners of this TV network help fund Hamas.”
The congressman spoke about how “the Hamas side, which of course Qatar supports, that rejoices in how many babies they can kill, how many children they can kill.”
“The idea that you would have a TV station funded by those and owned by those who fund Hamas and that Hamas would use all of its efforts in a clear effort to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible and then you on this TV station say, ‘Well, maybe it’s not a war crime because it’s not successful.’ The rocket didn’t hit a kindergarten. It was aimed at a kindergarten but then it didn’t hit a kindergarten so then it’s not reprehensible,” Sherman said.