Israel has turned down two offers from Qatar to re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen an Israeli trade office in the tiny Gulf state, the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday. The overtures were rejected due to a Qatari demandto be allowed to implement reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip, the report said.
Doha severed ties with Tel Aviv and closed the trade office to protest Israel's assault on Gaza that began in December 2008.
Haaretz said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman initially welcomed the move but refused at allowing the import of large quantities of cement and building materials into the Strip. Israel feared the material would be used "to build bunkers and reinforced positions for missiles," Haaretz quoted an Israeli official as saying.