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Qatar ex-PM says Saudi, UAE backing Israel to please Trump

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led a boycott against Doha since June 2017 [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 September, 2018

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Qatar's former prime minister has said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have backed Israel in the Middle East peace process to gain favour with the Trump administration.
Qatar's former prime minister has accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of backing Israel against Palestine in the Middle East peace process to gain favour with the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani made the remarks on Trump's controversial plan for a Middle East peace deal during a lengthy interview with France 24 on Monday, which the Palestinian leadership has said will be hugely in favour of Israel.

Sheikh Hamad said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have sided with Israel on the deal to please the Trump administration "because they think this is the key to open the White House and Senate".

The comments come after the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made several divisive remarks on Trump's peace plan.

Bin Salman has reportedly pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the deal and said Israel had the "right" to a homeland.

Ramallah has cut off contact with the White House after Trump recognised the occupied city Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.

They accuse Trump of blatant bias in favour of Israel and accuse the president of blackmailing them to force them to accept the White House's terms.

Ties between Israel and Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - are increasingly coming out in the open as they find common cause against mutual foe Iran.

Sheikh Hamad said that the Trump administration could broker a deal if it spoke to both sides of the conflict and also took into consideration Palestinian demands.

"You cannot force the Palestinians - by taking some Arab countries with you - to accept by money or force," he said.

In recent weeks, the US government has announced more than $500 million in cuts in Palestinian aid, including cancelling support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Trump has made it clear he is working to force the Palestinians to negotiate on the deal he has dubbed "the deal of the century".

Palestinians have rejected the deal, with Abbas lambasting it as "the slap of the century".

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led a boycott against Doha since June 2017, accusing the gas-rich emirate of funding terrorism and allying with regional rival Iran. Qatar denies the charges.

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