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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Qatar says it won’t change its position on the Palestinian struggle for freedom


The Gulf state recently distributed financial aid to families in Gaza for the third time since Israel’s May attacks.

Qatar reiterated its position vis-à-vis the illegal occupation of Palestine on Tuesday during its participation at the International Ministerial Conference on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East [UNRWA] held in Brussels.

According to the Gulf state’s foreign ministry [MOFA], Doha was represented by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi.

The Qatari envoy said that the conference is “another occasion to confirm Qatar’s firm stance towards the justice of the Palestinian cause” and the Palestinians’ right to live in their land “under an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders”.

“Qatar and the responsible international community stand by UNRWA and respond to provide the necessary resources to serve Palestinian refugees and provide the most basic necessities of human life, at home and abroad,” read the foreign ministry’s statement.

Al Muraikhi outlined that the agreement signed between the Qatar Fund for Development and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA earlier this month, worth $25 million, was part of Doha’s continuous support to Palestinians.

“It is a matter of pride that Qatar is the first Arab state to support UNRWA’s resources, and to be a member of its advisory board, as it has provided more than USD 100 million in support in the past five years,” said Al Muraikhi.

Al Muraikhi also expressed his appreciation of the decision by US President Joe Biden’s administration to resume its support to the agency this year after Washington had suspended its aid during the tenure of former President Donald Trump.

Qatar unveils new $3mn grant for Palestinian research studies

President Biden resumed humanitarian assistance to Palestine earlier this year after the former Donald Trump administration halted aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] as well as the UNRWA, which it previously described as an “irredeemably flawed operation”.

In 2018, the US government shut the Palestinian delegation’s office in Washington.

The US also withheld $65 million from the annual aid total of $365 million, leaving the organisation unable to provide adequate support to Palestinians in need, nor pay its 13,000 staff members.

Consequently UNRWA struggled, especially after gradual funding cuts, calling for more international intervention to help cover its budget at the time.

While the Biden administration has presented itself as a supporter of a multilateral approach that includes both the Palestinian and Israeli factions in peace discussions, it still shields Tel Aviv from accountability.

In a statement released earlier in March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US opposes the International Criminal Court’s [ICC] decision to open an investigation into Israel’s war crimes in Palestine.

Qatar’s support to Palestine

Despite the signing of the Abraham accord in October last year by neighbouring countries including the UAE and Bahrain, Qatar repeatedly ruled out normalisation with Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine.

Qatar has taken responsibility for rebuilding the besieged Gaza Strip since the 2014 onslaught, pumping over $1 billion into projects. It pledged another $500 million in May this year following Israel’s offensive on the city, killing at least 260 Palestinians including 66 children.

The Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza said it will distribute grants to families in Gaza on Wednesday. The latest Qatari grant would be the third since May and will be disbursed in coordination with the UN through up to 300 distribution centres.

The Gulf country has long condemned Israel’s war crimes and ongoing forced displacements of Palestinians, including the ethnic cleansing policies pursued by the zionist state in the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

The foreign ministry also condemned Israel’s latest announcement of expanding settlements in the West Bank, describing it as “a flagrant violation of international law”.

“The settlement plans pose a serious threat to international efforts to implement the two-state solution and impede the resumption of the peace process based on international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative,” said MOFA on 29 October.

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