The recent visit of Qatar’s emir to Germany has sparked renewed backlash against Berlin’s agreement to import natural gas from the Gulf state, which is widely believed to be a significant backer of the Palestinian militant organization, Hamas.
The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, held meetings with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Thursday. These meetings were not accompanied by press conferences, highlighting the visit’s political importance.
At the same time as the visit, certain individuals from Scholz’s ruling coalition strongly objected to the proposal of increasing the import of liquified natural gas (LNG) from Qatar.
According to Michael Kruse, the spokesperson for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), any future energy partnerships should only be formed with partners who acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and do not engage in conflict with it. The FDP is currently in a coalition with the center-left Social Democrats led by Scholz and the Greens led by Habeck.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Germany made efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian gas and looked for other sources such as Qatar, a leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) globally.
Last year, Scholz and Habeck, the Economy Minister, traveled to Qatar and signed an agreement. Germany will receive a maximum of two million tons of LNG each year, beginning in 2026. Habeck even bowed to the emir during the visit.
However, the recent terrorist attack in Israel carried out by Hamas gunmen and the emir’s visit to Berlin have led to renewed examination of the agreement within Scholz’s governing coalition.
Kruse, the energy spokesperson for the FDP, stated that the recent savage assault by Hamas highlights the crucial need to address the funding of terrorism. He also emphasized that if Hamas has been receiving both monetary and non-monetary aid from Qatar for an extended period of time, Germany should not reciprocate by purchasing billions of cubic meters of gas.
Officials from Qatar refute the claim that their assistance to Gaza is intended to support Hamas. Instead, they assert that the financial aid to Gaza is meant to enhance the quality of life for Palestinians.
Scholz defended his meeting with the emir – which had already been announced ahead of the Hamas attack on Israel – during a speech in the Bundestag on Thursday, saying that Qatar had “an important mediating role, which it is also using.”
According to Scholz, it would be deemed irresponsible to not utilize all available contacts to aid in this dire situation. He also stated that this is being done in collaboration with Israel and for the benefit of those who have been abducted by Hamas.
Opposition members of the conservative party in Germany have expressed criticism towards Scholz for his meeting with the Qatari emir following the attack on Israel. However, their criticism was not directed towards the gas deal itself. According to Gitta Connemann, a lawmaker from the Christian Democratic Party, Qatar is a significant source of financial support for Hamas, a terrorist organization.
Connemann emphasized that Qatar needs to take definitive action to stop funding terrorists. She also stated that Israel needs more than just words of support, it needs true solidarity.