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Project Raven: Has Qatar Transferred $50 Million In Cash to Netanyahu?

Qatari leak raises questions about the authenticity of the Project Raven docs and the potential impact if they are real.

Project Raven, origin qatari government letters leak - Netanyahu
Project Raven and Qatari leak: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the former head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen Photo Amos Ben Gershom GPO

This affair was first published by Reuters in January 2019. The report covered Project Raven, a far-reaching cyber offensive conducted by ex-NSA agents working for the UAE. Later on, Project Raven was published widely abroad but not in Israel.

According to reports, Qatar has been a significant financial supporter of the Palestinian militant organization Hamas in Gaza, transferring over $1.8 billion in cash in suitcases over the years.

Are Project Raven’s documents a forgery?

The leaked documents of Project Raven revealed the Qatari system of payments to politicians and influential public figures. Some prominent figures mentioned included Human Rights Watch, Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Walid Jumblatt, Michel Francois Platini, and Surprize. Israeli political figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself.

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Bernard-Henri Lévy (BHL) sued Blast-info.fr for defamation in an article published by Blast containing leaked Project Raven documents about him. BHL did not claim that the Raven documents were a forgery. He only claimed the article defamed him. He lost the case. He appealed the initial verdict against him and lost again.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an American non-profit press monitoring and analysis organization, co-founded by Israeli ex-intelligence officer Yigal Carmon and Israeli-American political scientist Meyrav Wurmser, published its first report in December 2023,

No one from Netanyahu’s close advisories responded in his name to the suspicions raised following the discovery. However, Netanyahu opened the gates to the transfer of fortune to the hands of Hamas, money with which Hamas built 500 km of tunnels in the Gaza Strip and a strong army force, which executed the massacre in Israel on October 7, 2023. 1400 citizens were murdered, and 251 were taken to Gaza as hostages. 120 people are still holding in Hamas capture. About 10 months now.

According to MEMRI, five of the Raven Project leaked documents were classified as secret and published by the Blast investigative website. They all relate to Israeli politicians. Three mention an alleged $15 million grant to Benjamin Netanyahu and an alleged $5 million grant to Avigdor Lieberman (for the Likud-Beiteinu bloc) in their 2012 election campaign.

The other two letters related to the alleged $50 million grant to Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 for the same purpose. Here is one of them.

Project Raven, origin qatari government letters leak - Netanyahu
Project Raven, origin Qatari government letters leak Source: MEMRI

Translation by MEMRI:

Ministry of Finance, the office of the Minister

Barcode

Secret and very urgent

To His Excellency Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Aal Thani

Head of the office of the Emir

The Emir’s office

Doha

Greetings

I have the pleasure of referring to the high directives of His Excellency Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Aal Thani, Emir of the country, in his letter number DA-1091-2018, dated 10/29/2018, regarding the withdrawing of quick money support to his excellency, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the head of the Likud party, in the amount of US $50 million (fifty million US dollars) as participation in support of the upcoming election campaign for the Likud in the Knesset. This amount should be delivered in cash to the state security service under the section of emergency supports.

I have the pleasure of informing Your Excellency that in implementation of the instructions of its highness, the Emir of the country, as referred in the above the amount has been given in cash at the level of $50 million US dollars to the state security service represented by His Excellency, Mr. Jassim Bin Rustum, on the basis of the authorization of the letter from the state security service. This was done from the special emergency fund and urgent grants taken from the Central Bank of Qatar.

I would kindly ask Your Excellency to present the above to His Esteemed Highness [Emir] for his attention and knowledge.

Kindly accept our greatest respect.

Ali Shareef Al Emadi

Minister of Finance

The MEMRI publication emphasizes that the letters do not prove that Netanyahu received the funds.

Israel’s approach to relations with Doha

Ynet News reported that in 2018, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a secret letter to the Qatari leadership. In the letter, Netanyahu urged the Qatari government to continue transferring money to Hamas in Gaza. He claimed that the funding would help reduce the motivation of terror groups in Gaza to carry out attacks, prevent a humanitarian crisis, and preserve regional stability.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Yigal Carmon, president of MEMRI, expressed concerns about Israel’s “questionable policy regarding Qatar for years.” He thinks these documents might explain Israel’s approach to relations with Doha.

Carmon understands the shocking nature of these allegations against the Prime Minister. He argues that recent events have shown that seemingly unlikely scenarios can actually be true. He points to examples such as the “Qatargate” scandal in Europe and the confirmed transfers of funds to Hamas, which, before Netanyahu, thought to be impossible.

Yigal Carmon claimed that he believed the documents were real. He says neither he nor MEMRI has been sued for “spreading false information”. He thinks there should be an investigation into all this.

Carmon: “if it’s indeed an instance of forgery – how can someone forge documents about the prime minister and not get sued? I, Yigal Carmon, am propagating a horrible conspiracy about the Prime Minister everywhere just like that – why aren’t they suing me? Saying that these are 100% fake is not serious. Their policy is in and of itself an explanation. As I said, many unthinkable things suddenly became plausible. What we need is an investigation and what we need is accountability,” he concluded.”

Not everyone agrees with Carmon, of course. Netanyahu’s political party, Likud, says, as expected, this is all “false and illusory news” and “propaganda against the State of Israel.”

They stressed that Israel is currently at war, and this isn’t the time for such allegations.

People associated with Qatar said the issue should be treated with caution and emphasized the importance of relying on “verified sources of information” to prevent misunderstandings caused by spreading rumors.

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