Qatar’s emir arrives in Jeddah for talks with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani arrived in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.
The meeting is the first for the two Arab leaders since a major rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia earlier this year. It comes as Doha has emerged as a possible peacemaker after the Islamist Hamas group, which controls Gaza, rejected a proposal for a ceasefire by Egypt, a close ally of Saudi Arabia.
Hamas demanded instead that any accord must include lifting a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and a return to an understanding that ended a previous round of fighting in 2012.
On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Qatar’s emir in Doha and in an appeal filmed in the Gulf state stressed the unity of the Palestinian people. Officials from Abbas’s camp told Reuters that their conditions were aligned with those of Hamas.
Rift in Relations
Qatar bankrolled the elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, who was overthrown by the military a year ago.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have since poured in money to support Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the takeover and has since been elected president after outlawing and suppressing the Brotherhood.
Under his rule, Egypt has tightened its hold on the southern end of the Gaza Strip, closing tunnels to try to block supplies of weapons and prevent militants crossing.
Egyptian officials suspect Qatar encouraged Hamas to reject the ceasefire plan Cairo put forward last week. Hamas sources in Doha, however, say Qatar did not influence their decisions.
“Qatar is helping us in communicating our message, that’s all it is,” said a Doha-based Hamas source. He added that the group was never approached by the Egyptian authorities, and it could not agree to a deal it had never been part of.