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Palestinian president meets Qatari emir after Morocco becomes fourth Arab state to normalise with Israel

Qatar has repeatedly made clear its stance on normalisation [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 December, 2020

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Palestine's Mahmoud Abbas met with the Qatari emir in the capital Doha on Saturday, amid increasing Arab normalisation deals with Israel.
The Palestinian president met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha on Saturday evening, state news reported.

The Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, visited the Qatari capital to discuss the latest developments on Palestine, without mentioning further details, Qatar News Agency reported.

The visit comes amid a string of Arab normalisation agreements with Israel, the latest of which was announced by Morocco on Thursday.

The US-brokered deal followed similar moves from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in the last few months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said liaison offices would be reopened in Tel Aviv and Rabat, which Morocco closed in 2000 at the start of the second Palestinian uprising, and full diplomatic relations would be established "as rapidly as possible".

Morocco confirmed the deal, saying King Mohammed VI had told outgoing US President Donald Trump his country had agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel "with minimal delay".

By Friday, the United States adopted a "new official" map of Morocco that includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

"This map is a tangible representation of President Trump's bold proclamation two days ago - recognising Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara," Ambassador David Fischer said according to a statement seen by AFP.

He then signed the "new official US government map of the kingdom of Morocco" at a ceremony at the US embassy in the capital Rabat.

The map will be presented to Morocco's King Mohammed VI, he added.

Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco's control, where tensions with the pro-independence Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Qatar has remain steadfast in its stance against normalisation since the deals were first announced in August.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has made repeated statements denouncing the move without achieving rights for the Palestinians.

In November, the FM said Arab states who normalised with Israel have undermined efforts for a Palestinian statehood.

"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. 

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