Qatar Rules Out Normalization With Israel ‘For Now’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. (Reuters/Ibraheem al Omari/File Photo)

Qatar’s foreign minister said Friday that his country remains committed to the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Yerushalayim, and that progress on that front would need to be “at the core” of any agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

“Right now, I don’t see that the normalization of Qatar and Israel is going to add value to the Palestinian people,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogue.

There was speculation that Qatar – which already cooperates with Israel in providing aid to the Gaza Strip – might be the next Arab country to normalize relations after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan established diplomatic ties with Israel in recent months.

But the foreign minister said Qatar remains committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab countries would recognize Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from territories liberated in 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state.

The foreign minister noted that his country has a “working relationship” with Israel to provide aid to Gaza, where the Islamic terror group Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

“But for the full normalization, I believe the Palestinian issue needs to be at the core of any agreement of normalization between Qatar and Israel,” he said.

The normalization agreements with Israel, brokered by the United States, were widely seen as a breakthrough in Mideast diplomacy. But the Palestinians condemned the agreements as a betrayal because they marked a major erosion in Arab support for their cause, a key source of leverage in any future peace talks.