State Dept.: Qatar pledges not to fund Hamas


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration says it has received assurances from the Arab nation Qatar that its assistance to the Palestinians will not reach Hamas.

“Qatar has pledged financial support that would be directed to the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Julia Frifield, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, wrote in a Nov. 21 letter to Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) first revealed this week by the Free Beacon news website. “Qatar assured us that its assistance would not go to Hamas.”

In July, during the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Roskam had written to the U.S. secretaries of State and the Treasury expressing “grave concerns” about the State Department’s cooperation with Qatar in its bid to end the fighting, noting the emirate’s past support for Hamas.

In her letter, Frifield noted the continuing U.S. policy of not dealing with Hamas, but added that Qatar was valuable in part because of its influence with the group.

“We need countries that have leverage over the leaders of Hamas to help put a cease-fire in place,” she said.

Part of Hamas’ leadership is headquartered in Qatar. Frifield also said that the United States is cooperating with Qatar to clamp down on terrorist financing in the country, noting that disruption of such financing remains “inconsistent.”

Qatar has pledged $150 million to the Palestinian Authority in debt relief and additional funds to help the people of the Gaza Strip.

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