MK Bar-Lev: Sunni countries took cue from Trump on Qatar split

The decision by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar is especially significant for Israel, MK (Knesset Member) Omer Bar-Lev of the Zionist Union, said Monday.

Bar-Lev said the move by the five Arab countries reflected the emergence of  a Sunni coalition as direct result of last month’s $110 billion arms deal between Washington and Saudi Arabia, and added that the changing reality around the region will necessarily have an impact on Israeli policy.

“Trump is the pied piper, and the Sunni world follows along after him, Bar Lev said before turning to the Israeli government which he accused of intransigence and failing to understand the emerging regional circumstances. “Next, the Netanyahu government, which relates to Israel as some sort of isolated island and therefore offers no regional or diplomatic initiatives, will have to justify the $4 billion it receives from Uncle Sam and will have to do what he [Trump] says,” Bar-
Lev added.

Bar-Lev, who is a candidate for chairman of the Labor Party and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said “the right-wing government is panicking at the thought of an American initiative, which at the moment is the only one that offers any political outlook at all. It would seem that in light of President Trump’s initiative, The security vacuum and Netanyahu’s lack of policy are coming to an end. It is only a matter of time.”

Bar Lev accused Qatar of playing a double game in the region both supporting Hamas and at the same time mediating between the Islamic terror group and Israel.  “Qatar is trying to play both offense and defense [in this region],” said Bar-Lev. “The Qataris channel funding that is intended for construction projects in Gaza to be overseen by Israel, but at the same time serve as an ongoing source of funding for Hamas and other fundamentalist Islamic terror groups. At this stage, Qatari mediation between Israel and Gaza is preferable to the option of having … Qatar doing whatever it wants and turning [Gaza] into a terror lab.”

Qatar provides financial support to Hamas in Gaza and to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and also maintains close economic and political ties with Iran, a fact that the Sunni countries view with suspicion.  On the other hand, Qatar is home to a major US airbase that has served an important base for the staging of attacks on Iraq during the both the 1990 Gulf War and the more recent military offensive against Iraq from 2002 to the present time.

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