Doha / Information Office / May 28
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that Qatar was active diplomatically since the start of the latest events in Al Quds, especially when the provocations of settler groups began, followed by the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, and then the provocations in Al Aqsa Mosque.
HE Sheikh Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that the State of Qatar has been a reliable mediator over the years, carrying out successful mediations. His Excellency also noted that the State of Qatar's ties with different parties, whether Hamas of Taliban, helped the region's security and stability.
This came in two separate televised interviews HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs with Al Araby TV and MSNBC, where he discussed a number of GCC and regional issues.
He said that everyone saw the value the State of Qatar provides when it conducted dialogues and played a mediating role with its diplomacy with various groups, noting that Qatar helped mediate many cease-fire agreements between Hamas and Israel, and stopped the conflict between the United States and the Taliban. His Excellency added that the State of Qatar is currently facilitating dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government. He indicated that the State of Qatar can play a role in providing a platform for the various conflicting parties to negotiate with each other in order to resolve all these disputes by peaceful means.
His Excellency reviewed the timeline of the recent events in Palestine and the resulting Israeli aggression against the people in Gaza. His Excellency said that the State of Qatar repeated the message of the importance of ending these provocations, as they may lead to violence and possibly a new war. His Excellency said that there was communication on the various international levels, whether with allies like the United States or other friendly nations, in addition to holding a ministerial meeting for at the Arab League in its current session chaired by the State of Qatar. His Excellency said that one of the outcomes of the meeting was to establish an Arab committee that examines the recent incidents, then raise its recommendations to the UN Security Council.
His Excellency said that there was also continuous coordination with regional partners and the regional states concerned with this issue, in particular with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab Republic of Egypt, before the war escalated in Gaza. His Excellency added that there was Qatari communication with Hamad and other political groups in Gaza, as well as with the Palestinian authority to try and reach a de-escalation. His Excellency added that these efforts were done in coordination with the Arab Republic of Egypt. His Excellency said the last few days saw a number of initiatives put forward, all of which were rejected by the Israeli side, before the Egyptian initiative gained the approval of all sides in the final two days. His Excellency said that Qatar communicated with the Palestinian parties to encourage them to accept the initiative as a temporary de-escalation step.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that there were no compromises that had to be made, saying that the ceasefire is connected to conditions and latest developments in the West Bank and Al Quds in particular. His Excellency added that the Palestinian parties have concerns that the de-escalation can lead to more provocations in Al Quds, which may rise again.
On the long-term solution that can guarantee the rights of Palestinians, His Excellency said that this will be something the international parties will have to work towards. His Excellency stressed that Qatar's message was that today's solution is temporary so long as the Israeli provocation continue without regard for its international commitments, which could lead to more violence and wars. His Excellency added that the ongoing siege on Gaza cannot be ignored, noting that the international community has not urged all sides to return to negotiations. His Excellency also highlighted that there wasn't a comprehensive vision for a peace process following the Arab Peace Initiative, which Israel has not considered. His Excellency said that Arab countries consider the initiative a fair resolution that establishes two countries and is fair to the Palestinian people. His Excellency noted that the Palestinian authority tried countless times to work in accordance to that framework to no avail. His Excellency said that Qatar sees there was a sense of alertness on the international stage regarding the importance of a peace process, following the recent events that occurred with the Palestinians.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the current ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was a temporary solution that doesn't deal with the root causes of the issue. His Excellency stressed that there is a need to maintain that ceasefire by stopping the provocations, allowing Palestinians to pray in mosques and churches without obstacles, ending the removal of people who live in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and dealing with the damages in Gaza as a result of the war and Israeli attacks. His Excellency also stressed that it was important to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in Gaza as fast as possible.
He stressed that the Arab Peace Initiative became an acceptable minimum for all Arab countries and the Palestinian people, that can be a starting point. His Excellency noted that Qatar does not believe that any initiative is beyond change, but can be discussed between the parties and must achieve justice for the Palestinian people.
His Excellency said that the Arab Peace Initiative is the available fair solution, along with the related international resolutions, and the efforts of the Quartet on the Middle-East which the State of Qatar agrees with. His Excellency said that any change that occurs regarding the initiative must be agreed upon by the parties involved, stressing that the Palestinians are the ones most affected in that regard.
On whether the State of Qatar contacted the Israeli or American sides following the bombing that targeted the Qatar Red Crescent Society's (QRCS) headquarters in Gaza, His Excellency said that communication with Israel happens in the framework of Qatar's humanitarian projects in Gaza. His Excellency said that Qatar has contact with the Israeli side and the Palestinian parties during times of tension. His Excellency said that Qatar expressed its denouncement of the act, noting that the targeting of humanitarian institutions is a violation of international law and International Humanitarian Law. His Excellency added that the targeting of a building that contained media offices in Gaza was also condemned. His Excellency noted that it was an attempt to censor media and prevent it from shedding light on the events and bombing in Gaza. His Excellency said that it was an unprecedented act that is unacceptable and condemned internationally.
He added that QRCS is a Qatari civil society organization, and is certainly studying its options that protects it against similar attacks in the future.
In response to a question about the Qatari grant for the reconstruction of Gaza and how to ensure that the money goes only to help the needy, His Excellency said it was important to recognize that the Palestinian people are not just Hamad, highlighting that there are 1.2 million people living in Gaza and are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. His Excellency highlighted that there is a lot of suffering as a result of the war, and that there were many children who were killed in the war.
He noted that the State of Qatar has provided aid in the past ten years in a strict manner and has ensured the delivery of humanitarian projects and aid, noting that Qatar has built during those years 42,000 housing units, hospitals and roads. His Excellency also added that the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Hospital for rehabilitation, which carried out 70,000 procedures in 2020 alone, was hit in the most recent war.
His Excellency said that over the past three years, Qatar provided its aid in very clear ways that were agreed upon between Qatar and the United Nations, with the Israelis also in agreement on that. His Excellency added that the process was very clear to them because the aid entered through their crossings. His Excellency said that 50% of that aid goes to buy fuel to provide electricity to the Palestinian people. His Excellency said that Qatar helped increased the electric power in Gaza from being available two hours a day to 16 hours a day. His Excellency said that the other 50% goes to the poorest families in Gaza, which are about 130,000 families, each family receiving $100. His Excellency stressed that a $100 per family, to families that are in desperate need amid rocket attacks, will be used to produce any rockets or support any group there.
His Excellency said that the State of Qatar has an approved mechanism. There is the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, which started its work since 2012, and this committee is implementing projects on the ground there according to a framework and mechanisms agreed upon, either with the United Nations or with the Israeli side that oversees the entrance of materials needed for these projects. His Excellency said that the Qatari projects are centered around building housing units to those who lost their homes, building the infrastructure in terms of roads, hospitals, and rebuilding schools, in addition to other programmes that provides education, healthcare, and humanitarian aid to those injured. His Excellency said that there were major projects in Gaza, including Qatari residential cities built recently in Gaza, that get destroyed by the war every time.
His Excellency said that there was a clear mechanism for delivering the aid. His Excellency also said that part of the aid is used to buy fuel for Gaza's electric utility, with electric power in Gaza improving from being available two hours a day to 16 hours a day, and even to a higher number of hours a day. As for aid provided to poor families, His Excellency said that the United Nations has access to the list of names who receive the aid, via a bank transfer to the bank accredited in Gaza. His Excellency said that the aid to those families is symbolic in nature, given it is only a $100 per family. His Excellency said that there is additional support the State of Qatar is working on with the United Nations Development Programme on a quarterly program.
His Excellency highlighted that access to Gaza can be gained through only two crossings, the first is on the Arab Republic of Egypt's side, with the other on the Israeli sides. His Excellency expressed his thanks to Egypt for opening their crossing recently to provide aid to Gaza. His Excellency added that the past few years saw Qatari aid reach Gaza through the Israeli crossing, adding that they were aware that the situation in Gaza is leading more tension that everyone wants to avoid. His Excellency said that the State of Qatar appreciates the Palestinian Authority as it is the legitimate representative of the State of Palestine, but maintained that there was division in Palestine and that the State of Qatar has always called for unity and reconciliation, whether through elections or whatever way the Palestinians see is right. His Excellency said that the Palestinian Authority has a difficult time accessing Gaza, and said that the State of Qatar would certainly deal with the legitimate government if that changed in the future.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that there are a lot of demands that haven't been met in Gaza, such as disputes related to fishing, allowing the entrance of certain materials, and job opportunities. His Excellency expressed his regret that the Israeli side would every time say they would meet those demands before ultimately backing down.
About the type of pressures that Doha was previously subjected to, and whether its position is still consistent in the issue regarding the alliance or normalization of ties with Israel, His Excellency said that there are some Arab countries that have made normalization with Israel recently, and stressed that the State of Qatar does not interfere in the affairs of other countries. His Excellency said that Qatar and Israel opened a trade bureau when the country felt there was hope of reaching peace based on a two-state solution with Israel. His Excellency added that Qatar had an experience from the nineties until the war in 2008 when Qatar decided to close the bureau after failing to see any positive impact the relations with Israel helped in reaching a resolution with the Palestinians. His Excellency added that Qatar does not plan to normalize relations so long as there is no hope for a peace process in with the Palestinian side. His Excellency noted that the reason for the Arab countries boycott of Israel is what happens to the Palestinian people. His Excellency added that with respect to the State of Qatar, that reason remains and there is nothing yet to change this approach. His Excellency maintained however that, if there is a clear peace process based on foundations like the Arab Peace Initiative that the Palestinian people are satisfied with, the State of Qatar could then reconsider its position. His Excellency said that the United States did not pressure the State of Qatar in that direction, but did communicate that normalization would contribute in pushing the peace process forward and will help spread peace in the region. His Excellency also said that Qatar expressed its view that normalization with Israel would not be a catalyst at this time, until there is a clear path towards a peace process with the Palestinians. His Excellency also said that there has been no indication in Israeli behavior that they are interested in engaging in dialogue with the Palestinians.
On whether ties with the US changed under the Joe Biden administration, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the State of Qatar's ties with US institutions have always been positive, strong, and strategic regardless of the administration. His Excellency said that every US president had a different policy with different roles in the Middle-East, noting that the State of Qatar played the role it could in establishing security and peace in the region. His Excellency cited Qatar's efforts to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the United States during Donald Trump's administration, in addition to its efforts in Iraq and the peace talks between Taliban and the US, which yielded a peace agreement under the Biden administration.
His Excellency noted that there is a change in US policy that is more receptive of holding a dialogue with Iran, adding that Qatar's welcomes a solution to Iran's nuclear issue that sees a return to the agreement reached between the parties. His Excellency also said that Qatar sees that the GCC must play a role in the regional security calculations with Iran, stressing that this will not happen except through a regional dialogue between GCC members and Iran to address the former's concerns. His Excellency added that Iran for its part certainly has concerns it wants to share with the GCC, noting that HH the Amir called at his 2015 speech at the UN for such a dialogue. His Excellency said that Qatar is willing to offer all it can to help achieve stability in the region, noting that the country enjoys good ties with all parties involved and is known for mediating between different parties, something that His Excellency said the State of Qatar is willing to do with the United States and other friendly countries to establish stability.
His Excellency said that both sides involved in a conflict must accept the mediator for the latter's efforts to succeed. His Excellency said that the State of Qatar's duty is to provide support to both the US and Iran, and encouraging them to try and reach a solution. His Excellency noted that Qatar was only asked official to deliver message to the Iranian side calling on them to adhere to the negotiations and try to reach a resolution as quick as possible. His Excellency said that Iran and the United States communicate constantly through messages delivered by the State of Qatar and other parties such as the European Union.
In response to a question about whether there are any future steps or a Qatari role to solve the Yemeni issue, His Excellency that there was now a UN Envoy to Yemen and that the State of Qatar's current role is to provide humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people. His Excellency said that the State of Qatar's view on the subject is to adhere to UN resolutions related to the matter and to the outcomes of the national dialogue. His Excellency called for ending the war as quickly as possible, noting that there were some parties and countries working towards that end. His Excellency said that the State of Qatar was not asked to help, but would not hesitate to do so if it were to be asked. His Excellency also said that the State of Qatar viewed Saudi Arabia's ceasefire initiative positively, but expressed regret that there was no response to it.
On the visit of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the state of bilateral relations, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Al-Ula declaration and its outcomes ended a difficult period for the GCC, saying the State of Qatar engaged positively following the summit. His Excellency added that the State of Qatar has worked continuously and diligently since then to rebuild trust, rebuilding the relationship and framing it in the fraternal framework that it is supposed to be. His Excellency said that there is a positive vision by both the Qatari and the Saudi leadership that the two countries will overcome these differences and work to strengthen relations in the future. HE the Deputy Prime Minister also said that the visit of HH the Amir to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came following an invitation form the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, adding that there was talks on bilateral economic cooperation and enhancing the historic bilateral relations between the two countries. His Excellency acknowledged that the GCC crisis over the past four years was difficult, but maintained that all sides want to benefit from as lessons learned and work towards the future.
Concerning communication with officials in the United Arab Emirates, and whether there were any new requests submitted to the Qatari side from Abu Dhabi, His Excellency said that there were no new requests. His Excellency highlighted that the outcomes of Al-Ula declaration stated that each party involved will work on resolving their concerns in a bilateral manner, saying it was normal that different countries would more to resolve their differences at different rates. His Excellency said that the State of Qatar held a number of meetings with the UAE following Al-Ula declaration, adding that the Qatari side felt a positive vision to overcome the differences. His Excellency said the last of those meetings took place two or three weeks ago, adding that he is in contact with officials in the UAE. His Excellency maintained that overcoming the current difficult period will require some time, adding that the State of Qatar realizes that the process is difficult for everyone involved, whether the governments or the people.
On whether the State of Qatar has obtained guarantees so that the differences do not re-emerge or to avoid the blockade people were subjected to, His Excellency said that no country can get guarantees from another one. His Excellency said that based on what they have experienced with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so far, joint work and enhancing bilateral relations is the biggest guarantee against differences in the future. His Excellency said that there must be continuous communication without interruption similar to that which took place in the GCC crisis, if all countries involved are to avoid crises in the future, stressing that this was the State of Qatar's belief and that of the other countries based on the interactions so far. His Excellency added that Qatar believes the GCC must be strengthened as an institution by creating a mechanism to resolve conflicts, noting that the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah proposed that initiative in 2017.
On the legal measures taken during the GCC crisis, His Excellency said that the parties involved have agreed on a mechanism to put an end to these measures.
On ties with Egypt, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed regret that ties with Egypt saw many tensions, but highlighted that they always remained at least at a minimum even during the crisis. His Excellency noted that Qatari investments were not affected and that Qatari students were able to continue their education, something that the State of Qatar appreciated. His Excellency noted that the State of Qatar does not have many outstanding issues with the Arab Republic of Egypt, adding that both sides welcomed the progress made in that regard. His Excellency said that his recent visit to Egypt saw him convey the State of Qatar's vision of enhancing bilateral ties with Egypt following those differences.
His Excellency said that the State of Qatar sees the Arab Republic of Egypt as a major Arab and regional player, a role the State of Qatar supports. His Excellency added that the State of Qatar sees plenty of opportunities between the State of Qatar and the Arab Republic of Egypt on different regional issues, noting that the two countries efforts in Palestine reflected the impact of Al-Ula declaration's outcomes, and how the Qatari-Egyptian cooperation helped the Palestinian people. His Excellency said that Qatar looks forward to enhancing economic cooperation and bilateral cooperation with Egypt in different fields, stressing that the State of Qatar wants good and balanced relations with all Arab countries.
On whether the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood was brought up, His Excellency that it hasn't as far as he knows. He stressed that Qatar's view is that any differences can be resolved, and that Qatar is committed to working with the government of Egypt. His Excellency highlighted that the current government was the legitimate one that has been elected, stressing that the State of Qatar does not work with particular political parties, but with governments or parties that were elected or are currently in power. His Excellency also stressed that the State of Qatar was a state and respects that, and so does not work with political party, adding that Qatar's respect also extends to the institutions and the Egyptian government.
On whether Qatar got a response from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to visit Doha, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that his meeting with the Egyptian President was very positive, adding that the date of the visit will be determined later through diplomatic channels. His Excellency noted that HH the Amir and the Egyptian president exchanged phone calls during Ramadan and Eid, describing that as positive steps that can be built upon in the future.
On reestablishing ties with the Syrian regime, His Excellency said that the State of Qatar's position was clear on that issue given the Syrian regime is committing crimes against its people. His Excellency added that Qatar does not see any way forward towards a political resolution that is acceptable to the Syrian people, and so as a result there is no motivation to reestablish ties.
On His Excellency's recent visit to Libya and Sudan, he said that the visit to Libya came to discuss the outcomes of the political dialogue held in Geneva and the work of the unity government. His Excellency said that the visit to Tripoli was good overall. He added that the State of Qatar discussed if there was a need to provide support to the government in providing services to the people. He reiterated that the State of Qatar supports the ceasefire in Libya, and a smooth transition in the country. His Excellency said that the return of the Qatari diplomatic mission to Libya was a reflection of support. His Excellency said that work must continue to reach the elections scheduled in December, in line with the outcomes of the political dialogue. His Excellency added that Qatar wants to see sustainable stability in Libya.
On the visit to Sudan, His Excellency said that the State of Qatar has always supportive Sudan, noting that Qatar held the Doha Agreement to resolve the crisis in Darfur, noting that there are follow up peace talks. His Excellency said that Sudan is facing difficult conditions, noting that the State of Qatar will continue its support to the Sudanese people, saying that Qatar will continue its support to the Sudanese people, saying Qatar is confident the current difficulty in Sudan is a result of the transitional period only, adding that Qatar looks forward to the sustainable phase were it will continue to support the Palestinian people.