Top US Jewish leader bargains with Qatar for lives of missing Israelis in Gaza

By Yaakov Katz  – November 27, 2017 JERSUALEM POST

Malcolm Hoenlein, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has long maintained covert contacts with Arab and Muslim countries. Malcolm Hoenlein, a prominent American Jewish leader, has been holding secret talks with Qatar in an effort to retrieve the Israeli soldiers and citizens being held in the Gaza Strip. Apparently, the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, is aware of these talks, The Jerusalem Post has learned.Hoenlein, the veteran executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was in Qatar a few weeks ago where he met with the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Last week, Prince Mohammed, the Emir’s brother, attended Hoenlein’s daughter’s wedding in New York.

Hoenlein refused to comment for this report.

A veteran Jewish leader who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hoenlein has for years maintained covert contacts with Arab and Muslim countries and regularly meets with the heads of state of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the Middle East.

In addition to Qatar, he has in the past also asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to use his influence over Hamas to try and secure the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul as well as the two Israeli citizens –  In 2011, Hoenlein traveled to Damascus and met with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He reportedly delivered him a message from Netanyahu. News about Hoenlein’s contacts with Qatar comes just weeks after The Post revealed that another group of Jewish leaders, including Menachem Genack, an Orthodox rabbi and the head of the Orthodox Union’s (OU) Kashrut Division, had secretly visited the small Gulf state.
The trip was organized by Nick Muzin, a prominent Jewish Republican operative who is on retainer by the Persian Gulf nation to establish ties with the American Jewish community.

At the same time as Genack’s visit, The Post has learned that Martin Oliner, a former mayor of Lawrence, New York and the president of the Religious Zionists of America, also visited Qatar. Oliner told The Post that he was in Qatar to attend a legal conference and to visit the US airbase there.
While Qatar is officially a US ally and home to an American air base, it is locked in a tug of war with Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia. Al Jazeera, which is owned and financed by Qatar, was recently banned from broadcasting in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu has also threatened to ban the news station from broadcasting in Israel.

Israel is particularly upset with Qatar over its continued support of Hamas.
For years, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has found refuge in Qatar alongside other top members of the terrorist organization and the Gulf state has funded the organization as well as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In addition, Qatar has aligned itself with Iran which currently supplies it with a significant percentage of its food supplies after Saudi Arabia cut off the country’s only land crossing in June.

While the Prime Minister’s Office was made aware of Hoenlein’s contacts with Doha, this does not mean that Israel approves of it or of Muzin’s work. In September, when Muzin reportedly hinted to some American Jewish leaders that the Prime Minister’s Office had given its blessing to the work he was doing with Qatar, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told Forbes that it was not true.