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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Palestinians are ‘not only Hamas’, Qatar FM says


Qatar and Egypt helped broker a ceasefire last week in Gaza, ending the deadliest Israeli bombardment on the besieged Strip since 2014.

The latest ceasefire in Gaza is only “temporary” and more work is needed for lasting peace, Qatar’s foreign minister said on Thursday, urging the world to avoid conflating the people of Palestine with Hamas.

In an exclusive interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed the urgent need to address ongoing Israeli violations of human rights.

“What we have seen in the ceasefire that has been brokered recently that it’s temporary and it’s not addressing the root cause of the issue, which is the provocation that took place in Jerusalem and ultimately the absence of the prospect of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Sheikh Mohammed told host Ayman Mohyeldin when asked about maintaining the truce.

The FM said there is an urgent need to stop Israeli provocations to allow Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, to freely practice their religious duties at the Al-Aqsa mosque, where Israeli forces have engaged in brutal attacks against worshippers.

Sheikh Mohammed also said more must be done to halt the forced dispossession of Palestinians living in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah while addressing the destruction in Gaza, where an 11-day Israeli bombardment left much of the Strip destroyed.

Hamas aid allegations

Mohyeldin also tapped into ongoing allegations regarding Qatar’s aid to Gaza given the presence of the ruling Hamas movement in the city, referencing Doha’s latest $500 million donation to reconstruct the the strip.

In response, Sheikh Mohammed said “Palestinians are not only Hamas”.

Read also: Blinken thanks Qatar for securing Gaza ceasefire

“We cannot reduce the Palestinian people living under occupation and consolidate them in just one group. There are 2.1 million people living in Gaza who are in desperate humanitarian need, there are people who are suffering and suffered from this war, there have been a lot of children killed in the war,” the official said.

So far, 50% of Qatari aid has contributed to providing Palestinians with electricity to help increase Gaza’s power supply from two to 16 hours per day. The other half of the donations goes towards 430,000 of the poorest families living in the city, each of which receives $100, he said.

“I don’t think $100 per family who are in a difficult humanitarian need is a contribution to produce missiles or any weapons or supporting a group which lives there because of circumstances,” he said.

Qatar has built 42,000 housing units, hospitals and roads, including the Hamad Hospital for rehabilitation that successfully completed 70,000 medical services in 2020 alone, only to be destroyed in Israel’s bombardment in Gaza, he added.

Dialogue with Hamas

The MSNBC host also discussed concerns over Qatar’s direct dialogue with Hamas and its reported impact on the peace process in Palestine.

“Qatar has been a trusted mediator throughout the years, we have done different successful mediations in the region. Our relations with the different parties is benefiting the security and stability of our region, whether it’s with Hamas or the Taliban,” said Sheikh Mohammed, noting the positive outcomes of its negotiations with parties involved in conflicts.

The Qatari official used the Afghan peace process as an example of the Gulf state’s successful mediation efforts between the US and the Taliban.

“We have stopped conflict between the US and Taliban and we are now carrying out dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan government,” he said.

Qatar and Egypt-brokered ceasefire

Israel launched a brutal bombardment on Gaza for 11 days, killing 248 Palestinians including 66 children. A Qatar and Egypt-brokered ceasefire later came into effect on May 21st, putting an end to the attacks.

Much of Gaza’s infrastructure was destroyed or heavily damaged by Israeli airstrikes. This includes the Qatar Red Crescent Society Office, the Al Jalaa building which housed Qatar-based Al Jazeera offices, and the Sheikh Hamad Hospital for Rehabilitation and Artificial Limbs, Gaza’s only prosthetic and disability rehab centre.

Nevertheless, Qatar has continued offering aid to Palestinians.

Last week, QRCS launched a QAR 60 million fundraising campaign for Palestine under the title ‘We Are All Palestine’. The campaign aims to benefit more than 593,000 Palestinians in Gaza, Jerusalem and several cities in the West Bank.

The MSNBC interview followed a phone call between Sheikh Mohammed and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who praised Qatar for its role in bringing an end to the violence.

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