Last month Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to discuss the ongoing violence and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. By most accounts the meeting was uneventful. Secretary Kerry spoke of “creating a climate where we can move forward in a positive and constructive way” and all sides predictably affirmed their commitment to maintain the “status quo” on the Temple Mount, referring to a policy that prevents Jews from worshiping there. Setting aside the questionable morality of a policy that prohibits the Jewish people from praying at Judaism’s holiest site, the meeting was mostly notable for what wasn’t discussed, at least publicly; Qatar and its role in propagating Arab violence against Jews.
According to an investigative report recently published by Israel Hayom, Qatar has been gifting members of the Northern Branch of The Islamic Movement thousands of Shekels to incite violence against Jews on the Temple Mount. The Northern Branch is a Muslim advocacy organization whose leader Sheik Ra’ad Salah has in the past been convicted of incitement to violence charges in Israel and since 2002 there have been talks within Israel of outlawing the organization for its extreme ideology. The Israel Hayom article notes that The Northern Branch is using the funds it receives from Qatar to pay Arabs to attack Jews using rocks, firebombs and firecrackers. And according to the Jerusalem based think tank the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Al Aqsa mosque itself – from which Israeli police in concert with the “status quo” agreement rarely enter – is being used both to provide sanctuary for these rioters and to store their weapons.
These accounts of Qatari backed incitement on the Temple Mount should come as no surprise to Secretary Kerry or the Obama Administration. The US treasury department has noted that Qatar “has for many years openly financed Hamas” and like Hamas the Northern Branch is an affiliate of The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose funding from Qatar has been well documented. The Qatari government has also according to a recent New York Times report, for years consented to fundraising in Qatari state owned mosques by representatives of al Qaeda. Yet amazingly, the United States remains committed to maintaining strong diplomatic ties with Qatar – in July the United States and Qatar signed an $11 billion dollar weapons deal that will send Qatar Apache helicopters, patriot missiles, and anti-tank rockets.
In August the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) urged the US State Department to designate Qatar a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Such a designation would under the Export Administration Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act cut US defense exports and sales to Qatar including the $11 billion July deal, and it would allow American victims of Qatar backed terrorist attacks and their families to potentially sue in the United States. Most importantly it would demonstrate that the United States does not in any form condone State sponsorship of terrorism, making it clear to Qatar and others who engage in terrorism sponsorship that their actions will have real consequences. Congress is taking this issue seriously with members from both parties publicly expressing their concerns, but the President and Secretary Kerry have by and large kept silent.
If Secretary Kerry is serious about “creating a climate where we can move forward” his Department of State must recognize that much of what is happening in Jerusalem begins in Doha. It is time for the President and the Secretary of State to take this issue seriously, to stand behind clear, well established guidelines for terrorism sponsorship, and to call Qatar what it is, a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
Eytan Sosnovich is the Executive Director for the New York Metro Region at the Zionist Organization of America. He previously worked for as an analyst for the US Department of State in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs.
This blog was originally published by The Times of Israel and may be found here.