Qatar Cancels DC Celebration in Solidarity With Hamas

Qatar serving as mediator in Israel's negotiations to secure the release of hundreds of hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip

Qatari spokesman Majed Al-Ansari (Reuters)
November 29, 2023

Qatar has canceled its upcoming National Day celebration in Washington, D.C., as a form of protest against Israel's efforts to defend itself against Hamas terrorists.

The Qatari embassy in Washington, D.C., sent a notification this week to guests scheduled to attend a celebration of the country's National Day on Dec. 6 that the event would be canceled, according to a copy of the notice reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

"We write this email to inform our dear friends and partners that while we truly looked forward to seeing you at the celebration of our National Day on December 6th, 2023 at the United States Institute of Peace, we have decided to cancel Qatar National Day," the country's embassy wrote in an email circulated this week to invited guests.

While the embassy did not cite a reason for the cancellation in the missive, the Qatari government earlier this month postponed other National Day celebrations in solidarity with Hamas. That announcement was published on X, formerly Twitter, as a video by Qatari deputy prime minister Khalid Al-Attiyah, who described it as a gesture "regarding what is happening to our brothers in Gaza in terms of genocide and crimes against humanity." Senior Qatari officials have repeatedly accused Israel of waging a "genocide" in the Gaza Strip and saying the Jewish state is to blame for Hamas's Oct. 7 terror operation.

The event cancellation comes as the United States has enlisted Qatar—a key Hamas ally that provides safe haven to the terror group's leadership—to act as a mediator in Israel's negotiations to secure the release of hundreds of hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip. A tenuous ceasefire has been in place for the past several days as the two sides negotiate, with Hamas patron Iran warning that the group has thus far only used around 10 percent of its military arsenal.

But Qatar's repeated expressions of solidarity with Hamas, and opposition to Israel's defensive war, are generating questions about the Middle Eastern nation's ability to act as an arbiter in the hostage negotiation process being backed by the Biden administration.

The National Day event, which typically attracts a crowd of Washington's political elite and foreign policy leadership, was scheduled to be held at the United States Institute of Peace, a federal government think tank located next to the State Department.

Qatar's D.C. embassy did not return a request for comment on the event's cancellation or the reasons for the move.

One senior congressional official familiar with the matter said Qatar's actions are contributing to concerns about its role in the hostage negotiation process.

"The Qataris are going out of their way to alienate people," said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. "They're asking for support and saying they're just trying to mediate, but meanwhile they're publicly feuding with Republican senators, sending diplomats around the world to lobby against American support for Israel, and now extravagantly standing in solidarity with Hamas."

"This is a terrorist group that murdered Americans and is holding Americans hostage," the source added. "People aren't going to forget all of this any time soon."