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Qatar ‘remains committed’ to Arab peace plan as neighbors make deal with Israel

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The Qatari envoy to the United States told the other two Arab states that established ties with Israel Newsweek his country still supports an 18-year-old Arab plan linking the normalization of relations with the majority-Jewish state to an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

On the eve of a White House signing ceremony for Bahrain and the UAE agreements with Israel, Qatari Ambassador to the US Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said Doha “remains committed to a just settlement of the Palestinian issue based on “The Arab Peace Initiative and a two-state solution in a way that achieves security and stability in the region.”

The Arab Peace Initiative was first approved by the Arab League at the 22-member group summit in 2002. The proposal calls for the establishment of links between Israel and the Arab World in exchange for the withdrawal of the former from the occupied territories including the West Bank. and the Gaza Strip, as well as parts of Syria and Lebanon, along with the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, however, were chosen to normalize ties with Israel before such a solution was reached in successive agreements mediated by President Donald Trump, who has called on other Arab and Muslim countries to pursue example.

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“Both Qatar and the United States recognize that a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is important for the stability of the Middle East,” Thani told Newsweek, “and we continue to play an active role in working towards a peaceful solution.”

Qatar, Palestine, flags, gas
Palestinians attend a rally in support of Qatar on the Qatari-funded housing project in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis on June 9, 2017, just days after Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced a boycott Qatar on alleged links to groups considered terrorist organizations.
Tha KHATIB / AFP / Getty Images

Last month’s agreement between Israel and the UAE marked the first of its kind for the Persian Gulf, making the UAE the third Arab country to establish ties with Israel since Jordan in 1994 and Egypt in 1979. with Bahrain becoming fourth.

Mauritania established relations in 1999, but severed them a decade later amid Israeli war in Gaza, which was led by the Islamic movement Hamas. The Israel-UAE agreement was reached against the backdrop of another impact of violence in Gaza between Israeli forces and Palestinian militias, where Palestinian rocket attacks have been responded to by Israeli airstrikes and bombings.

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Weeks later, Hamas announced that an agreement had been reached to halt the deadly escalation cycle. It was Qatar that mediated the negotiations.

“Qatar has long argued for the use of mediation and de-escalation as a means of resolving the conflict,” Thani told Newsweek. “For the last two decades, Qatar has been trying to bring stability and peace to the region and beyond, not only in Gaza, but also in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Sudan.”

Thani stressed the important peacekeeping role his country continues to play, especially in the Gaza Strip.

“Qatar has provided Palestine and the Gaza Strip with vital support to ensure the peaceful and sustainable development of Gaza and its citizens through numerous aid programs,” he said.

With the Palestinian economy under siege and its infrastructure turbulent, Trump vowed earlier this year to double the GDP of the partially recognized state in exchange for further concessions of his already divided territory to Israel. The Palestinian leadership completely rejected the plan of an administration that had unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a decision widely condemned internationally.

Palestinian officials have similarly been critical of the UAE and Bahrain decision to normalize ties outside the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative, criticizing their moves as a “betrayal of Jerusalem,” its venerable mosque. Aqsa and the Palestinian issue as a whole in the remarks sent to Newsweek.

“The Palestinian leadership also renews its call on the Arab brotherly nations to adhere to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative,” the statement said, “and calls on the international community to abide by international law and decisions of international legitimacy.”

The Israeli embassy in Washington did not immediately respond Newsweekrequest for comment but, after last month’s agreement with the UAE, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat had the opposite reaction to that of the Palestinians.

He hoped that “many other Arab countries would join in the path of peace” created first by the UAE and then Bahrain.

“Israel will extend its hand in peace to all,” Hayat said, “and we hope that the Palestinian leadership understands the new reality of the Middle East and chooses peace over the war for a better future for the people of them and ours. “

The Arab world as a whole has proven to be more open-minded about the Trump administration strategy. The Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, spoke favorably on developments, although a full approval of the plan failed.

This anti-Israel stance of this collective of these US-friendly countries, of which, in addition to Yemen, are run by Sunni Muslim monarchies, has softened considerably over the years, with concerns shifting toward the rise of Israel’s revolutionary Shiite Islamic Iranthe enemy and US These policies are further complicated, however, by the move of a Saudi-led coalition in 2017 to boycott Qatar, effectively severing its land ties with the region.

To date, the blockade is backed by the Quartet of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which join a number of other countries in accusing Qatar of maintaining too close comfort links with Iran, Turkey and Sunnis. various and Shiite Muslim Movements.

us, Qatar, strategic, dialogue, pompeo, Mohammed
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) welcomes Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to launch the third annual US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue at the State Department in Washington on 14 September. Pompeo called for an end to the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar and for other Middle Eastern countries to follow in the footsteps of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel.
ERIN SCOTT / AFP / Getty Images

Thani said the blockade has not deterred his country from its policies or its alliances.

“The blockade is not only unjustified, but it has been completely ineffective,” Thani told Newsweek. “In these three years we have built even stronger geopolitical alliances and increased economic relations, especially with the US.”

He did not say a word expressing his gratitude to the Trump administration.

“We are grateful to the US government, which has worked with us over the past three years to end the illegal blockade of Qatar,” he added. “We appreciate President Trump’s recent calls for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end their air blockade against Qatar. Our American allies are aware that the blockade is unproductive and only creates further instability in the region. “

The U.S.’s largest military installation in the Middle East, Al Udeid Air Base, is located in Qatar now seeking to take advantage of recent deals with Israel to end the diplomatic crisis splitting the GCC. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received a senior Qatari delegation on Monday to discuss a range of issues, including these developments.

“Tomorrow, as Israel and the UAE join President Trump in the White House to sign a landmark agreement to normalize relations, we anticipate other Middle Eastern countries recognizing the benefits of a closer relationship with Israel. , “said Pompeo.

He also praised Qatar’s mediating role in peace talks involving Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza and Syria, and said he was actively pursuing ways to end the blockade of its borders.

“To keep our focus on this work and close the door on increased Iranian intervention, it is time to find a solution to the Gulf rift,” Pompeo said. “The Trump administration is eager to see this dispute resolved and to reopen Qatar’s air and land borders currently blocked by other Gulf countries. I look forward to making progress on this issue.”

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