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Can Israel and Qatar learn to be friends again?

130 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  Kazima
In 2010, Qatar offered Israel the chance to reopen its trade mission in Doha, offering to brush off the welcome mat in exchange for permission to send construction materials to Gaza. It also wanted the Jewish state to issue a public statement hailing its role in the region, and grant it de facto leadership of rebuilding efforts in the Gaza Strip. When Israel scoffed at the idea, Qatar tried again four months later. It was rebuffed a second time.

The latest development is that Qatar's Prince Khalifa Al-Thani is expected to visit Israel in November. This will mark the first time that a member of Qatar's royal family has ever officially visited Israel.

The visit will centre on the launch of the Israel-Palestine Commercial Arbitration Centre, a commercial initiative led by Oren Shachor, president of the International Chamber of Commerce in Israel, and his Palestinian counterpart, Munib al-Masri. This centre will provide arbitration services between Israeli and Palestinian businesspeople, for disputes of up to $7 million.

However, the prince is not visiting Israel just for the inauguration, but to improve trade links. The visit was scheduled over the weekend, during a meeting between al-Thani and Shachor discussing the promotion of commercial relations. There is already some trade between Israel and Qatar, mostly of goods.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the visit in November will focus on the high-tech sector. Qatar's government is keen to strengthen its local high-tech sector, by acquiring both knowledge and technologies, and wants to encourage Israel to export work and development projects to Qatar, rather than to India and Eastern Europe. This would provide jobs and prevent a brain drain of Qataris who have trained at good universities abroad. The itinerary for November's visit is still being built, with al-Thani expected to meet senior Israelis from the high-tech and venture capital industries.
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