In 1991, former emir Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani expressed his support for the Arab-Israeli peace conference in Madrid, engaging Qatar in bilateral relations with the state of Israel. His successor, Hamad bin Khalifa was present at the signing ceremony of the ’Oslo 2’ agreement in 1995 between the Israelis and the Palestinians, giving his support to the peace process. This political support initiated several trade ventures between Qatar and Israel, leading to a warming of relations between the two countries. Qatar became the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state to grant Israel de facto recognition, when the first Israeli trade office in the GCC opened in Doha, following a visit by the Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres in 1996.
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Immediately after Hamas’ seizure of power, Israel imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip. No border crossings were allowed, and only goods that served humanitarian purposes (according to Israel) could pass into Gaza. The economy in Gaza came to a standstill. Contraband could only reach the population by way of underground tunnels from the Egyptian border.
Before 1967, the Green Line – established in the 1949 Armistice Agreements – was in fact the eastern border of Israel. Back then, Israel’s territory encompassed 78 percent of the land of the pre-1948 British Mandate for Palestine. However, neither Israel nor its neighbouring Arab states had ever recognized the borders of this territory as a formal state border, although most of the international community did in fact consider the Green Line as such.