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Qatar welcomes Middle East peace plan, urges changes

Doha: Qatar responded cautiously Wednesday to US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, saying it welcomed efforts to broker “longstanding peace” but warned that was unattainable without concessions to the Palestinians.

The plan, seen as overwhelmingly supportive of Israeli goals and drafted with no Palestinian input, gives the Jewish state a US green light to annex key parts of the occupied West Bank as well as control over Jerusalem as its “undivided” capital.

Supporter of Palestinian cause

Qatar is a supporter of the Palestinian cause, but is also a strong ally of the United States, hosting Washington’s largest airbase in the region. 

The gas-rich Gulf state has hosted leaders of Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, and provided millions of dollars in aid to fund fuel for the territory’s sole power station and cash handouts to needy families.

“Qatar welcomes all efforts aiming towards a longstanding peace in the occupied Palestinian territories, appreciating the endeavours of the current US administration to find solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

“Qatar reaffirms its commitment for supporting the Palestinian institutions, noting that peace cannot be sustainable if Palestinians rights in their sovereign state… including east Jerusalem, and the right of return are not preserved.”

Issue of Jerusalem

On the flashpoint issue of Jerusalem, Trump said Israel should retain control over the city as its “undivided capital”, effectively ruling out the possibility it could be split between Israel and the Palestinians.

The plan would also end the right of return for millions of Palestinians or their descendants who fled or were forced out when the Jewish state was created in 1948.

Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose West Bank-based government has for decades been at loggerheads with Hamas, to push for “ending divisions”. 

Sheikh Tamim, who made the comments during a phone call with Abbas according to QNA, also pledged Qatar would help reach a “fair, comprehensive, and permanent resolution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The plan announced by Trump on Tuesday was widely cheered in Israel but was bitterly rejected by the Palestinians, with Abbas vowing to “take it to the dustbin of history”. 

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