Normalization of relations with Israel “cannot be the answer” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said a Qatari official, adding that Doha will not join other Arab Gulf states to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.
“We do not think that normalization is the core of this conflict and therefore it cannot be the answer,” Lolwah al-Khater, a spokesman for the Qatari foreign ministry, said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg.
“The core of this conflict is the drastic conditions Palestinians live in” as “people without a country, living under occupation,”
Al-Khater’s statement came before Bahrain and the UAE signed their normalization agreements with Israel in a scheduled ceremony in the White House later Tuesday.
The agreements will normalize diplomatic, trade, security and other relations between Israel and the Arab states.
Palestinians have criticized the agreements as grave betrayal by Arab states, further undermining their efforts to achieve self-determination.
The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Israel signs a peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a solution that leads to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state in exchange for establishing links with it.
Earlier this month, the Emir of Qatar, 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 ending the conflict with Israel.
Work towards unity
Driven by the ‘normalization’ of ties between Arab states and Israel, fractured Palestinian political factions are working diligently in multilateral talks to restore unity and repair the divide between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in far more promising negotiations than previous efforts. .
On Saturday, Palestinian groups led by Hamas and Fatah agreed on a “unified field leadership” that includes all factions that will lead “a global popular resistance” against the Israeli occupation, a statement read.
He 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 anger” demonstrations and more protests are planned outside the embassies of Israel, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain around the world.
The formation of the joint leadership group and the progress in the talks for intra-Palestinian unity came after a long-awaited meeting on September 3 between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, the head of Islamic Jihad Ziyad al-Nakhala and the leaders of various Palestinians. entity. The meetings took place in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, and in Beirut, Lebanon.
Hamas and other Palestinian parties have been calling for such a meeting for years, but Abbas has consistently rejected the move, asking Hamas to honor previous unity pacts first.
In his interview, al-Khater also suggested that there may soon be progress towards ending a three-year boycott of Qatar by some Arab nations.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar on June 5, 2017 and imposed a sea, land and air blockade, claiming that Doha supported “terrorism” and it was too close to Iran.
Qatar has consistently rejected the claims and said there was “no legitimate justification” for breaking off relations.
The rift thwarted President Donald Trump’s efforts to form a united front against Iran in the Gulf, and a new US-led mediation round was launched two months ago.
The efforts, supported by Kuwait, have not yet reached a tipping point, al-Khater said.
“For the past two months, there have been messages and messengers going back and forth,” he said.
“It is very early to talk about a real breakthrough” but “the next few weeks may reveal something new,” he added, without giving further details.
The negotiations went beyond the 13 demands that boycott states initially made as the basis for any resolution, he said.
At the top of the list was the downgrading of diplomatic relations with Iran, but it also included the cessation of military cooperation with Turkey and the closure of the Al Jazeera network.
“We are beyond this point,” al-Khater said. “The point where we are is to engage constructively in unconditional negotiations and discussions” which “do not necessarily have to include all parties at the same time.”
The Qatari official’s comments came days after the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington hopes Saudi Arabia and its regional allies will end the blockade.
Pompeo said it was particularly important to build on Arab-Israeli rapprochement to better address Iran’s “growing malign behavior”.