US envoy Jason Greenblatt meets with leaders in Qatar to discuss Gaza relief

May 16, 2018

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt met Wednesday in Qatar with its foreign minister and discussed relief for Gaza, a notable meeting with one of Hamas’ only allies at a time when the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel is exploding with violence.

“Met today in Doha, Qatar with Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Than,” Greenblatt said Wednesday on his Twitter feed. “We discussed the urgent need for humanitarian relief for Gaza & the Trump Administration’s developing peace plan.”

Greenblatt has said in the past has said that relief for Gazans would be key to any path to peace.

Greenblatt repeated the tweet in Arabic.

Greenblatt’s meeting came two days after he attended the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. That same day, Israeli troops killed some 60 Palestinians who were part of an attempt by thousands to breach the fence with Gaza. The weeks of protests have been backed by Hamas, the terrorist group controlling Gaza.

Greenblatt, like other Trump administration figures, has backed Israel’s line on Gaza, saying the violence is entirely provoked by Hamas. However, Greenblatt, who is also a leader of President Donald Trump’s effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, has said that relief for Gazans would be key to any path to peace.

Qatar remains one of the only countries in the world with ties to Hamas, and could play a role in persuading the group to allow in relief for Gazans. Hamas on Tuesday turned away two truck-loads of humanitarian aid from Israel while allowing through six trucks with assistance from the Palestinian Authority and UNICEF, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The United States’ Arab allies in the region are shunning Qatar because of its ties with Hamas and other Muslim Brotherhood groups, and with Iran. The Trump administration has sent the Persian Gulf state — which houses one of the largest U.S. military bases in the world — mixed messages, with some rebukes, but also with some outreach.

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