Qatari FM: For Arabs, Hamas is a resistance movement

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani affirms that Qatar’s support is for Palestinian people and not Hamas.

Qatar's foreign minister is in Russia for talks on the Qatar-GCC rift [AFP]
Qatar’s foreign minister is in Russia for talks on the Qatar-GCC rift [AFP]

The Arab nations view Hamas as a “legitimate resistance movement” and not a “terrorist organisation as viewed by the US”, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said.

In an interview with Russia Today during a visit he paid to Moscow on Saturday, the Qatari foreign minister rejected accusations that Qatar was supporting Hamas.

“The US views Hamas as a terror organisation. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,” he said.

Hamas is the Palestinian group that has governed Gaza since 2007. The small strip of land, home to nearly two million Palestinians, has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for a decade.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar must end its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood before ties with other Arab Gulf states could be restored.

Jubeir added that Qatar was undermining the Palestinian Authority and Egypt in its support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We don’t think this is good. Qatar has to stop these policies so that it can contribute to stability in the Middle East,” he said.

Qatar’s foreign minister, however, added that the country’s stance was in line with other Gulf states.

“Hamas’ presence in Qatar doesn’t mean there’s support for Hamas in Qatar which cooperates with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas’ presence is a political representation of the Hamas movement.”

Qatar’s foreign minister told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the presence of Hamas’ leaders in Qatar’s capital Doha was “coordinated with the US” and aimed at facilitating Palestinian unity.

Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

“Hamas’ presence [in Doha] is coordinated with the US and the countries in the region, and it’s part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation.”

Hamas, meanwhile, said it was “shocked” by Saudi Arabia’s call on Qatar to stop supporting the group.

Jubeir’s remarks “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations”, according to a Hamas statement released on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting “extremists” and Iran – charges Qatar calls “baseless”.

Inside Story: Blockade on Qatar is ‘toying’ with people’s lives

Source: Al Jazeera News

What the Palestinian people should forget

View of the Palestinian Shuafat refugee camp behind Israel's apartheid wall in east Jerusalem on 3 December 2014 [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]

View of the Palestinian Shuafat refugee camp behind Israel’s apartheid wall in east Jerusalem on 3 December 2014 [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]

The Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem and large parts of the Palestinian territories. The scene looked like a party aboard a pirate ship as the cutthroats celebrated the theft of a precious treasure. We heard everything from the prime minister and his cronies, except the words justice, human rights and freedom. Furthermore, no one mentioned Palestine or the Palestinians.

The charade is coming to an end. The occupation government has tightened its grip on Palestine and its people after almost seven decades since the Nakba, and half a century after the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights.

This is no time for delusions. The Palestinian people must forget the two-state “solution”, which was dead and buried long before Trump entered the White House. If a Palestinian state is ever declared as part of the existing reality, it will be a figment of someone’s imagination; something more akin to a federation of prisoners with a threadbare red carpet laid out between high walls and surrounded by barbed wire.

At some time, perhaps soon, a Palestinian state of sorts will be required so that Israel can declare the end of Palestinians’ rights forever. This “state” will be the final nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause. There will also be a need to find a helpless and hapless “president”, of the calibre of Mahmoud Abbas, in order to deliver a speech on “the great victory finally achieved for our people”.

Read: Remembering the Naksa

The Palestinians should also forget about getting help from Europe, which is only ever going to express “concern” about Israel’s violations of international law, along with meaningless recognition of a Palestinian state only on paper. Europe knows very well what the right-wing government of Israel is doing under Netanyahu’s leadership, but it is unwilling to act or to stop its generous support for the militarised, apartheid, colonial-settler state.

Throughout the 1990s, the Palestinians were looking forward to a European role in order to strike a balance with US bias toward the Israelis. Today, no one in Palestine is pinning hopes on Europe except perhaps to get some crumbs off the aid table, which are in any case mostly consumed by the vast network of Palestinian Authority security agencies that are most definitely not there to protect the Palestinian people.

The Palestinians must look for a way out of the trap into which they have been drawn. The truth of the matter is that the PA has no independence of thought or action; it does not own its own decisions or resources. Instead, it is dependent on unfair agreements signed in moments of weakness and submission post-1991 Gulf War under the guise of dreamy promises of independence that have not been fulfilled.

The situation looks bleak. Abbas governs Ramallah and some other scattered cities and villages as a matter of formality only, while the occupation army roams around at will and extends its long arms to capture whosoever it wants. Mr Palestinian President cannot step outside his door without permission from the occupation authorities. He has no sovereignty or state and the main task required of him is to protect the occupation in accordance with what he has called “sacred” security coordination; it is collaboration by any other name.

Based on the colonial experiences of other liberation movements, Palestinians have been employed against other Palestinians in another example of “divide and rule” policies creating conflict between brothers. The Israelis must rub their hands with glee at this comfortable, almost cost-free, occupation as this “special group” of Palestinians carry some of its operational burdens.

After 25 years of handshakes, applause and big smiles, the Middle East peace process has had a very poor harvest. The Palestinians do not own their land, resources, bread, water, security or border crossings, while the occupation government works tirelessly to confiscate more land, expand its illegal settlements, change Jerusalem’s landmarks, trap the Palestinians and put them in isolated enclaves in the West Bank, and continue the suffocating siege on the Gaza Strip.

Read: “Israel will never give up Golan Heights”, says Netanyahu

There is no potential for a Palestinian state to emerge within this reality, especially with the current circumstances and disintegration of the Arab world. This has exposed the Palestinians to sole Israeli control, backed by the US. The Arab leaders, who are popularly shunned, rush to woo the US representative in the area or any large Israeli military base. The rival blocs focus on the Israeli card in order to reinforce their chances of engaging in regional conflicts, as illustrated by the current dispute in the Gulf over Qatar.

The matter does not end there. There is something coming out of the international and regional melting pot that will be at the expense of the Palestinian cause. We hear talk about achieving regional peace and a historic agreement that will bring the Arab world and Israelis together, and soon. This is misguided; such claims and their miserable content aim to make alliances between oppressive, despotic regimes and Israel in matters beyond the Palestinian cause. It is a recipe for more fires in the region and will fuel the desperation and extremism which everyone claims to be fighting so relentlessly.

Seventy years after the Nakba and 50 years after the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, as well as, of course, East Jerusalem, it has become clear that the Arab countries were never going to be serious strategic players. Israeli governments have invested in this regional situation by continuing to hold on to the land and dominate the Palestinian people, while propping up a cartoon figure with a Palestinian flag and granting him the right to extend that threadbare red carpet in front of an Israeli tank.

The occupation still has one problem; the Palestinian people are not going anywhere.  They are alive and kicking against the occupation, and they have not conceded their inalienable rights to their land. The Israelis have not yet found a suitable trick to push them towards another planet allocated to the outcasts of Earth.


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