In a sudden turnaround, Israel has reportedly canceled the planned trip of its Mossad intelligence service chief, Yossi Cohen, to Qatar for the purpose of restarting long-stalled hostage negotiations with Gaza militants. The decision comes amid a diplomatic dispute between Qatar and Israel that has been brewing for some months now.
The decision to cancel Cohen’s trip, first reported by Israel’s Channel 13 television news outlet, was made in light of the ongoing diplomatic spat between the two nations. Qatar and Israel have been at loggerheads over the Gulf state’s support of Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, and its refusal to allow the Mossad official to visit the country.
As part of the ongoing talks between Israel and Gaza militants, Qatar has acted as an intermediary, easing the delivery of humanitarian aid and providing financial assistance. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Qatar had agreed to transfer $15 million to the Gaza Strip in order to help pay salaries and relieve the dire humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave.
It is unclear how the cancellation of Cohen’s trip will affect the talks between Israel and Gaza militants. According to some sources, Cohen’s goal was to reclaim the remains of two Israeli soldiers that were killed during the 2014 conflict, as well as to make progress on the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza. While Qatar may try to continue the negotiations in the absence of the Israeli spy chief, it remains to be seen whether it will be successful.
The sudden cancellation of the trip is the latest development in the ongoing diplomatic tension between the two nations over Qatar’s support of the Hamas government in Gaza. The stalled hostage talks demonstrate the difficulty of reaching a common ground between the two countries, and the future of the negotiations remains uncertain.