In terms of practical influence on the ground in Palestine, Qatar has become one of the major players in ensuring relative calm between Palestinian factions and Israel.

For weeks now, Western politicians, Israelis, and Emirati troll accounts have audibly heaped praise on the controversial deal that saw Abu Dhabi announce its recognition of Israel.

As the first El Al flight from Israel to the UAE - a PR stunt promoted as a symbol of 'peace' - landed in Israel amongst much fanfare, the Qataris managed to broker a deal between Hamas and Israel to de-escalate violence that had been ongoing since the announcement of the Israel-UAE pact. 

What was praised as a paradigm shift in Middle Eastern politics simply formalised a years-long clandestine relationship, in which the UAE and Israel formed similar foreign policy standpoints on Iran and pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East.

Since the deal was announced in early August, frenzied media outlets have covered a steady stream of ‘historic’ firsts, such as the above mentioned flight.

Emirati politicians have marketed the pact with Israel as a necessity that saved the Palestinians from further Zionist colonisation of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Indeed, the Israelis had been planning to annex parts of the territory in July and the Emiratis claim to have halted that process by the announcement of their deal with Israel.

Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have for their part made clear that any delay is just that, a delay, and that their country still plans to carry out the annexation.

Palestinians across the political spectrum have emphatically rejected the deal and accused the UAE of betrayal, making it clear that they do not consider the Gulf state an impartial arbiter in its future dealings with Israel.

In comments reported by Al Jazeera, senior PLO official, Wasel Abu Yousef said: "The UAE's position, in terms of its timing and essence, can only be understood as giving Israel leverage for free.

"There's no reasonable justification for it except that it gives more power to the occupation and increases its crimes against the Palestinians."

The deal therefore, may be one that may improve ties between the UAE and Israel, but has little positive bearing on the lives of Palestinians. In short; the Emiratis have given up any leverage they had over Palestinians, to go all in with the Israelis.

Qatari approach

In sharp contrast to its Gulf neighbour, the Qatari government has taken on an increasingly important role in calming violence between Palestinian factions and Israel, as was evidenced amid the recent Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

Doha’s mediation was decisive in Israel’s decision to end the bombardment of the besieged territory.

The flare-up in violence coincided almost exactly with the UAE’s announcement of its deal with Israel - an irony that was not lost on many Palestinians.

In one viral video, an image of Israeli and Emirati officials meeting their Israeli counterparts is contrasted with video footage of an Israeli raid on Gaza.

In return for an end to Israeli bombardment, the Palestinian faction Hamas agreed to rein in attacks on Israel using incendiary balloons and rockets by its own fighters and other groups.

As part of the deal, Israel will allow fuel to enter the territory through the Kerem Shalom crossing and expand the zone in which Palestinian fishermen can travel out in to the Mediterranean to 15 nautical miles.

Doha will also be increasing its financial support of Palestinian authorities in Gaza from $30million to $35 million a month, thereby illustrating the importance of its role in keeping the besieged area functioning.

Unlike the UAE, Qatar has managed to maintain its brokering role without recognition of Israel.

Despite Israeli suspicions, Qatar has long sought to act as a mediator in its conflicts with Palestinians, including during the 2014 Gaza War, which left more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, dead.

During that conflict, Israeli reservations stemmed from the idea that Qatar would be too biased towards the Palestinian side. Nevertheless, Qatar has since emerged as the main financial force keeping Gaza from economic oblivion.

To the Israelis, the Gulf emirate denies that its intention is to support Hamas but rather to deal with the group as the representative of Palestinians in the territory, in order to ensure the smooth distribution of the aid it supplies. Israel benefits by having a calm border with the besieged territory.

The arrangement, which does not enjoy anywhere near the publicity the disputed Israel-UAE did, demonstrates that while the UAE grabs the headlines, it is Israel’s relationship with Qatar that actually determines what happens on the ground.

Source: TRT World