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Normalisation with Israel undermines Palestinian statehood efforts: Qatar FM

Qatar's FM reiterated his country's support for a two-state solution [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 November, 2020

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The UAE, Bahrain and Sudan broke with decades of Arab policy that had demanded Israel first cede occupied land to the Palestinians to form their own state before establishing relations.

Arab states who normalised with Israel have undermined efforts for a Palestinian statehood, Qatar's foreign minister said on Monday, adding that the decision was still a sovereign right.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan agreed to formal relations with Israel, through US-backed deals, in recent months.

Palestinians have accused them of betraying their cause, while US and Israeli officials say more Arab states are expected to follow.

"I think it's better to have a united (Arab) front to put the interests of the Palestinians (first) to end the (Israeli) occupation," Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told the online Global Security Forum.

He said the moves were not in the interest of concerted Arab efforts to get the Israelis to negotiate with the Palestinians and resolve the decades-long conflict between both sides.

However, for the states who established ties, "it is up to them at the end of the day to decide what is best for their countries", he added.

Doha maintains some relations with Israel on matters concerning the Palestinians, such as humanitarian needs or development projects, he said.

Qatar supports a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, a stance the foreign minister reiterated. 

Read also: Tunisia, Qatar propose 'Western-Islamic' conference amid heightened tensions

Bahrain and its Gulf neighbour, the UAE, both signed US-sponsored normalisation accords with Israel on September 15 at the White House.

The UAE led the way in forging ties between the Gulf and Israel, announcing its decision in August, before Bahrain followed suit a month later.

The Gulf agreements were condemned by the Palestinians as a "betrayal" for breaking with years of Arab League policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The consensus had been that there should be no relations with Israel until it makes peace with the Palestinians.

Until this year, Israel had only current formal relations with just two Arab states - its neighbours Egypt and Jordan - established under peace deals reached decades ago.

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