Interview with H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, with Aljazeera Satellite TV Channel|
On Sunday Evening, 11 January 2009
H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Qatar still calls for convening an emergency Arab Summit as well as a meeting for Arab Foreign Ministers. |
He added in an interview with Aljazeera Satellite TV Channel that when Qatar called for the Arab Summit before the Israeli land troops entered Gaza, the aim was to create a unified Arab position not only on the Security Council's resolution, but also through acting with friendly and sisterly countries and adopting a clear Arab position so that h Arab countries are not always belittled and then attempts to reconcile various Arab view points are made.
The Prime Minister said that more than one Arab country has been treated unjustly, yet no one has held a violating party accountable for its acts. Meanwhile, we find that we are held accountable for everything, whether intentionally or non-intentionally. Only we, Arabs, are targeted. In other words, we are chastised in a manner which, even if endured by us as responsible officials, is not endured by the common Arab.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said that Qatar never wishes to drive a wedge in the Arab world. In reply to a question on the call to convene the Summit at the Arab Foreign Ministerial Meeting before going to the Security Council, he said that in Cairo 10-11 Arab countries had agreed in writing to convene the Summit. There were five other verbal agreements. The Emergency Summit could have been met by a two-thirds majority. However, the purpose of the meeting was to achieve Arab consensus.
I don't blame those who oppose convening the Emergency Summit. They may have different points of view, he said and added that he wished they were right, because the objective was to solve the issue and not to hold a Summit. The issue required a solution which should not be paid for by Palestinian blood, he added.
The call for the Arab Ministerial Meeting does not cancel Qatar's call to convene the Arab Summit, renewed by H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, in his recent speech.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said that Qatar does not insist on convening the Emergency Arab Summit at Doha, but it is important that it should be held to establish a united Arab position through which others will respect us.
He added that the purpose of the Arab Ministerial Meeting is to tell the world and the international community that the UNSC resolution has been adopted, yet Israel is not implementing it and is giving no attention to. Instead it has been carrying on the war raiding Gaza and killing people there. We Arabs need to ask one another as well as ourselves what we are doing.
He added that having accomplished its objectives in Gaza, Israel will pressurize the other poor Palestinian side. We don't force our brethren to comply with a resolution which has become outdated, he added.
When asked about the Syrian President's position in support of convening the Emergency Arab Summit with those heads who are present and whether Qatar supports such position, he said they idea is ours as well as that of more than one Arab country such as Syria and Yemen. The majority of Arab leaders support convening the Summit.
He added that Arab countries are divided into a moderate camp and a non-moderate camp. I don't know what is meant by such classification, he said and added that we are the only nation whose countries are classified by the West as being moderate or non-moderate, he said. He wondered whether to be moderate means accepting Israeli schemes and ending the issue in a humiliating manner or to maintain the issue without a solution. He also wondered what's to be moderate in the West's opinion and in our opinion. Should we give up the Palestinian cause and accept the slaughter of a faction of Palestinians because we don't like them or should we intervene in the Palestinian issue, he said There is no nation which accepts intervention in its own affairs and lets others dictate what is good or bad for it.
The Prime Minister added that elections took place in Palestine. I neither support nor oppose Hamas. In reality, there is an attempt to end the so-called radical elements, but we should ask what such parties want. Do they demand their rights and can we integrate them into the Arab entity or isolate them and create other blocks.
He warned that there is a foreign scheme to involve Arabs into internal fighting. This has started to take place, but we don't want to fight a war by proxy.
When asked about the countries which opposed convening the Emergency Arab Summit, the Prime Minister replied that there were views, but we could have called for a vote and two-thirds of Arab countries would have supported convening the Summit.
The purpose was not an issue of challenge, but rather there was an urgent need for the Summit, while others didn't think so, he said. Then we agreed to go to the UNSC and a resolution was adopted, but Israel hasn't complied with it and has declared that it will accomplish its mission in Gaza before it considers the resolution. He hoped that Arabs would not comply with the resolution and force it on the weaker Palestinian side.
The Prime Minister was asked whether the second Arab Ministerial Meeting called to by the State of Qatar would also witness heated discussions and differences like the first meeting. He said discussions are often heated and there are different viewpoints. What is important is that we should be ready to take a clear Arab position on the check-points, humanitarian assistance and medications as well as supporting our brethren and telling the Israelis to stop and that there is no longer a peace issue. He added that he believes all Arabs are prepared, but some say we should wait.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim asked we don't freeze the Arab Initiative. Some may say that we'll lose, but is there more loss than the current loss? Why is it that since 1948 it is only we who comply with international resolutions, while Israelis don't.
He expressed regret for labeling Hamas at meetings with certain designations and said he replied to that, but this was not everybody's position and not even that of the minority (of delegations).
He added that some Western countries find some Arabs who perform functions for them which do not serve Arabs' interests. This lessens others' respect for Arabs, but he did not specify any particular Arab country.
The Prime Minister said that the agenda of the Arab Ministerial Meeting to which the State of Qatar had called after the recent Security Council resolution should be: Where's the Arab Nation with its population of more than 300 million?.
He added that the SC resolution 1860 adopted as an outcome of Arab efforts has not and will not be implemented by Israel unless it accomplishes its mission. Only if Israel implements the resolution can we say there 's a resolution, he3 added.
He said that he was satisfied with the efforts of the Arab delegation in New York. We are ready to go to the Security Council and request it to place the resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. However, I realize it is very difficult to do this because Israel is above the law and is not held accountable by the international community, or they just say they understand the situation.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said that had we not gone to the Security Council in the current Arab status and had we agreed to convene the Summit and taken difficult decisions, the Security Council as well as Western countries would have turned against us. Because we were unable to take such difficult decisions demanded by the Arab masses and because the majority of Arab countries feared what the West may intend to do, we went to the Security Council.
The Prime Minister did not comment on whether there were reservations on the SC Resolution and said the important thing is that the resolution has been adopted. He added that Qatar took part in the drafting of the resolution and that Qatar was not invited to the meeting with the US Secretary of State, because they believed we had a different viewpoint. Those present performed what was needed and we thank them for that, he said.
He refused to state that some Arab countries were collaborators for two years in connection with the developments in Gaza, because Qatar doesn't have full information. However, he said Palestinian-Palestinian differences escalated because of some Arab and international intervention. Following the parliamentary elections, Hamas should have been given an opportunity to show whether it was an extremist revolutionary organization, as some claimed, or was seeking peace. As soon as Hamas took over power, Israel rejected it. There was international and even Arab rejection. Hence, the dispute arose and the blockade started. Now they claim there was aggression and that Hamas violated the truce. For two years, the Palestinian people in Gaza have been starved and 28 Palestinian were killed to safeguard Israel's security. In fact, they did not Hamas to rule. But why does the people in Gaza have to suffer?
The Prime Minister added that he does not claim that Hamas was 100% right, but the broker has to keep the same distance from all. Not only the broker, but all Arabs. However, what was wanted from us to do was to support one faction against the other, because one was considered to be a terrorist group and had to be liquidated by all means through training rival forces, siege, cutting off funds or creating a model in the West Bank to let the people in Gaza compare their conditions with those in the West Bank.
He denied that Qatar's call to convene an emergency Arab Ministerial Meetings was intended to replace the Egyptian initiative and he expressed Qatar's support for any Egyptian role leading to understanding. We don't want to bring a party as if it defeated the other to end the chaos in Gaza claiming that it's the path to peace and harmony, he added. He reiterated that the Egyptian initiative should balance international, Arab and humanitarian requirements as well as Egypt's role, which is an important one. Egypt is a leading Arab country for which we have respect and we always want it to play a major role, he added and said he didn't have a full perception of this initiative. He believed the chances for its success are in its ability to reconcile views of the Palestinian factions and discuss its provisions with the suffering faction in Gaza.
He said that he wished the Palestinian side comprised representatives from Gaza at Arab League and Security Council meetings to demonstrate to Israelis that these are our brethren and we support them.
He added that the Security Council has welcomed the Egyptian initiative, but it hasn't said it is the mechanism for implementation. He added that he hope the initiative will stop hostilities today and not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow because blood continues to be shed in Gaza.
The Prime Minister said that it is necessary to solve thorny issues in Gaza but not as Israel wishes, because it doesn't recognize the SC resolution. He added that the Turkish role is welcome and appreciated. Turkey is a Moslem country and its role is quite natural because of the current Arab weakness as a result of disputes and different viewpoints.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said there is absence of Arab agreement to deal with the situation and absence of understanding and coordination on how to make others respect us and not deal with us in isolation. Hamas may have made mistakes for which it may be held accountable by Arabs, but there should be a clear position on the continued aggression and Israeli procrastination and Arabs should have a strong unified position vis-?-vis the Israeli position, he added.
The Prime Minister said he didn't want to talk about an Arab-Israeli war and reiterated that Qatar always calls for peace and aspires to live in peace, he said. He only wanted a clear Arab position and at least to say no to Israel.
He said that it was not necessary that all that Khalid Mishaal, a major Hamas leader, said was right but why don't Arabs invite him to the Arab League and tell him we agree with some of his conditions, but we reject others.
The Arab masses' position in support of Gaza is clearly more advanced than that of Arab governments., he said. He regretted that some have called the participants in the popular uprising mobs and should not be listened to. Leaders should represent their peoples, but leaders want stability at least.
The Prime Minister said that Qatar would agree to sever its relations with Israel, if all Arabs agree to sever their relations with Israel, including those countries which have signed treaties with it. Qatar wanted an Arab model in which Qatar complies with part of its Arab commitments, and even to take more difficult decisions.
He added that Arabs should have a united position. Unfortunately, some have become brokers, he said. It's important that no Arab should sell his brethren in return for moral or material gains.
He said that Venezuela has disputes with the USA and that's why President Chavez dismissed the Israeli ambassador. There is no need for recalling ambassadors.
We call for peace and not for war with Israel and Arab countries are not ready to enter war with Israel. Arabs need to be united and to improve their relations, he said.
In reply to a question whether what has been happening in Gaza is continuation of a project which started in 2006 with the war on Lebanon, he said the objectives are similar. We are well aware of the Lebanese set-up and Lebanon gave an example by restoring its territories. In Gaza Palestinians are besieged from all sides, he said. Israel wants to have weak countries around it so that it may have the upper hand supported by foreign countries. Indeed, it wants to be the only power in the region. What took place in Lebanon wasn't a good example for Israel, and now Israel wants to change it. The solution in Gaza or Palestine is easier than that in Lebanon, where we have to talk to several factions. In Palestine, they are united on restoring the land, but they differ on power and how to divide it. The Palestinians have long listened to Arabs and foreigners. Thus, the gab is wider with each party believing that it can control the other, he added.
The Prime Minister warned that the operation in Gaza is meant to subjugate Palestinians, so should Arabs accept this? It's an example which may be repeated with those who oppose Israel or others in the future. If we fail to settle this issue, it will be a strategic failure for all Arabs, he said.
He added that it is important to find a solution for the issue, whether by Qatar or others. H.H. the Emir called to convene the Arab Summit to stop the bleeding. It is important to have honest intentions and reach an honorable solution and not to pressurize the Palestinians. Otherwise, history will not have mercy on us.
He said that Qatar carries on its efforts to end the Darfur crisis and has contacted all parties. A planned meeting has been deferred because of going to the Security Council, he said. We hope to make progress and avoid Arab-Arab rivalry. The crisis escalated because some Arab countries were involved, he added.
The Prime Minister said that Qatar will attend the Summit in Kuwait on 19 January and any other Summit. We wish the Summit were held under different conditions from the current ones, he said. He added that is too late to turn the Arab Economic Summit into a political summit. It would be a shame to talk about the Palestinians after they have been under attacks several weeks. We are committed to taking part in the Kuwait Summit, he said.
|H.E. Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs |