Israel, Saudi, UAE team up in anti-Qatar lobbying move

Dhaka,  Tue,  19 September 2017
Published : 11 Jun 2017, 21:07:18
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Israel, Saudi, UAE team up in anti-Qatar lobbying move

WASHINGTON, June 11 (Al Jazeera): US legislation threatening to sanction Qatar for its support of "Palestinian terror" was sponsored by 10 legislators who received more than $1m over the last 18 months from lobbyists and groups linked to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The bill was introduced to the US House of Representatives on May 25, but the text wasn't available until Friday morning, hours after Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt put 59 people and 12 institutions linked to Qatar on a "terror list".

The nations abruptly ended diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday, accusing Doha of supporting "extremism" and siding with their regional rival Iran.

"Hamas has received significant financial and military support from Qatar," the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2017, also known as HR 2712, said. It went on to list sanctions including an end of exports of defence technologies, arms, and loans or financing totalling more than $10m.

For Trita Parsi, author and founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a nonprofit that aims to strengthen the voice of US citizens of Iranian descent, the similarities between the US-allied Arab nations' "terror list" and HR 2712 show growing cooperation between Gulf Arab states and Israel.

"The coordination between hawkish pro-Israel groups and UAE and Saudi Arabia has been going on for quite some time," Parsi told Al Jazeera. What is new, he continued, is pro-Israel groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies "coming out with pro-Saudi [articles] and lobbying for them on Capitol Hill".

Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia all view the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political group, as a threat. Deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi belonged to the group, which endured a heavy-handed crackdown in Egypt since a military coup installed Abdel Fatah el-Sisi as president in 2014.

The Brotherhood was the ideological base for Hamas, the Islamist rulers of the besieged Gaza Strip that have fought three wars with the Israelis. The Saudis demand that Qatar stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in a move that aligns with Egyptian and Israeli policy.

Israel's influence on US policymakers is clear. HR 2712's sponsors received donations totalling $1,009,796 from pro-Israel individuals and groups for the 2016 election cycle alone, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group tracking money in US politics and its effect on elections and public policy, and then compiled by Al Jazeera.

"They're not traditional pro-Saudi legislators. They're in the pro-Likud camp," Parsi said, referring to the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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