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Qatar rules out establishing ties with Israel, says official | national

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Qatar will not join Gulf Arab neighbors in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel until its conflict with the Palestinians is resolved, the Qatari aide’s foreign minister said.

Lolwah Alkhater also suggested in an interview Monday that there may soon be progress towards ending her country’s 3-year boycott by regional states.

Alkhater spoke to Bloomberg a day before Israel and the UAE signed the first treaty between a Gulf Arab nation and the majority Jewish state. On Friday, Bahrain announced that it would also normalize relations with Israel, to despair Palestinians, who see alliances with Israel as a betrayal of their statehood.

“We do not think normalization was the core of this conflict and so there can be no answer,” Alkhater said. “The essence of this conflict has to do with the drastic conditions that the Palestinians are living under” like “people without a country, living under occupation.”

A shared distrust of Iran has led to new alliances as the region’s stars shift. For the past three years, Qatar has been the target of a diplomatic and commercial boycott by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, in part because of what they see as Qatar’s comfortable relationship with the Islamic Republic.

The rift has disappointed President Donald Trump’s efforts to form a united front against Iran in the Gulf, and a new round of US-led mediation was launched two months ago.

The efforts, backed by Kuwait, have not yet reached a turning point, Alkhater said.

“In the last two months, there have been messages and messengers going back and forth,” she said. “It’s too early to talk about real progress,” but “the coming weeks may reveal something new,” she added, declining to elaborate.

Negotiations have moved beyond the 13 demands that boycott states presented earlier as the basis for any resolution, she said. These include the closure of Qatar-funded al-Jazeera TV, a frequent critic of leaders and other regional governments.

“We are beyond that point,” Alkhater said. “The point we are at is constructive engagement in negotiations and unconditional discussions” that “do not need to involve all parties at the same time”.

She declined to identify which of the boycotting countries Qatar is talking to. In the past, officials have said priority will be given to regulating ties with Saudi Arabia, with which Qatar shares its only land border.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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