Qatar rules out normalising relations with Israel

Normalising relations with Israel “can’t be the answer” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a Qatari official has said, adding that Doha will not join other Gulf Arab states in establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.

“We don’t think that normalisation was the core of this conflict and hence it can’t be the answer,” Lolwah al-Khater, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday in an interview with Bloomberg.

“The core of this conflict is about the drastic conditions that the Palestinians are living under” as “people without a country, living under occupation,” she said.

Al-Khater’s statement came ahead of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signing their normalisation deals with Israel in a ceremony scheduled in the White House later on Tuesday.

The deals will normalise diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between Israel and the Arab states.

Palestinians have slammed the deals as grave betrayals by the Arab states, further undermining their efforts to achieve self-determination.

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.

Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state in exchange for establishing ties with it.

Earlier this month, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told White House adviser Jared Kushner that Doha supports a two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, to end the conflict with Israel.

Working towards unity

Prompted by the ‘normalisation’ of ties between Arab states and Israel, fractured Palestinian political factions are working diligently in multilateral talks to restore unity and mend the division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in negotiations far more promising than previous efforts.

On Saturday, Palestinian groups led by Hamas and Fatah agreed on a “unified field leadership” comprising all factions that will lead “comprehensive popular resistance” against the Israeli occupation, a statement said.

It called for Tuesday – when the signing ceremony takes place in Washington, DC – to be a day of “popular rejection”. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are planning “day of rage” demonstrations, and other protests are expected outside the embassies of Israel, the United States, UAE, and Bahrain worldwide.

 

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