No compromise with Qatar and terror: Emirati tycoon

Emirati businessman and commentator Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor, 3rd right, with the panelists at the 4th Open Talk session in Dubai on Wednesday. On extreme left is Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas. (AN photo)
Updated 10 August 2017
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No compromise with Qatar and terror: Emirati tycoon

DUBAI: The Gulf states cannot compromise with terrorism and cannot allow countries such as Qatar to support it, a leading Emirati businessman and commentator said on Wednesday.
“If you support terrorism, you get punished, you are either our friend or foe,” Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor told a discussion forum in Dubai.
“We commend our leaders for their patience with Qatar for more than 20 years, and are waiting for its leaders to get back on the right track. We have to be clear, we are against terrorism and we hope that Qatar comes around to its Khaleeji home.”
The Anti-Terror Quartet, comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in June and imposed a trade and travel boycott to protest at Doha’s support and funding of extremists.
“The boycott against the Qatari government is not against the Qatari people,” Al-Habtoor said. “We don’t have any evil intentions toward the people. We are not trying to harm them, they are our brothers and our neighbors.”
Al-Habtoor is the founder and chairman of Al-Habtoor group of companies, a conglomerate based in Dubai with interests from engineering and construction to hospitals and hotels. He is also a political commentator and Arab News columnist.
The businessman was speaking at a forum at his company headquarters to discuss the Qatar boycott and the output of the Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera. The panelists were Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News; Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science; Dr. Abdullah Al-Mutawa, director of Al Arabiya News in Dubai; Ahmed Al-Jarallah, editor in chief of the Kuwaiti newspapers Arab Times and Al-Seyassah; Dr. Fahd Al-Shelaimi, chairman of the Gulf Forum for Peace and Security; and prominent Egyptian lawyer Khaled Abou Bakr.
“Egypt is the country that suffered the most from Qatar,” Abou Bakr told the forum. “We have shed our own blood because of them. Mothers have lost their sons and this has all been supported by Qatari funds.”
Tarek Al-Zarouni, a former Al Jazeera reporter and the author of “Alone in Al Jazeera,” told the forum via teleconference: “Al Jazeera is Qatar’s Trojan horse, the main supporter of terrorism, shaming Islam by making Yusuf Al-Qaradawi the mufti of the country.
“Al-Qaradawi has a weekly presence on the news channel and he has the Foreign Ministry’s support. He is a symbol of terrorism. We need a strong media apparatus to broadcast facts, a soft power to fight against Al Jazeera.”


Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

On his first official visit to Israel and Palestine, Prince William is unlikely to talk about politics. Getty Images
Updated 14 min 17 sec ago
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Prince William on first official royal visit to Occupied Territories and Israel

  • The second-in-line to the British throne is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade

LONDON: Prince William will embark on the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the British royal family on Sunday.

But even with more than 120 Palestinians killed in protests in Gaza during recent weeks and controversy still surrounding the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, the second-in-line to the throne is not expected to talk politics.
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), told Arab News that the four-day tour is likely to focus on making trade deals in preparation for Britain’s departure from the EU next year, rather than on addressing the moribund Middle East peace process.
“There is a pretty naked desire to build relationships and Israel is a warm target for an increase in trade,” he said.
The visit risks “normalizing” the abusive regime under which Palestinians live, he added.
“Of course Prince William has to go to both the Israeli and Palestinian sectors or there would have been outrage. But there is a risk of his visit making it appear more acceptable and normal to carry out abuses of international law like the blockade of Gaza,” Doyle said.
William begins his Middle Eastern tour on Sunday in Jordan, a long-time ally of Britain. On Tuesday he will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims, meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later attend a football event with a mixed Arab and Jewish team.
On Wednesday he will meet young activists, both Arab and Jewish, who are involved in education and social programs, and also cross into the Occupied Palestinian Territories to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before attending an event focusing on Palestinian refugees.
He is due to deliver a speech at a reception hosted by the American consul in Jerusalem. However, protocol prevents him from making any remarks that might be deemed partisan. Doyle told Arab News this was a pity in view of how William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, championed justice for the oppressed.
“It is a pity that someone of his status, who clearly cares about his mother’s legacy, cannot give voice to real major concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians and the human rights abuses that are daily issues for them under Israeli control but which will be airbrushed out,” he said.
“Yes, he will see co-operative programs and Arabs and Jews playing football together, but the reality is that the Palestinian footballers can only travel to matches with Israeli permission.”
William was a surprise choice for the visit. Many expected the task to fall to his father, Prince Charles, who has more experience of countries which are politically extremely sensitive. But it is thought he was chosen because his youth chimes better with young Israelis working in hi-tech fields who he is scheduled to meet. Among Palestinians, his presence will barely register, said Doyle.
“I hope the language can be found for him to say something to his Israeli hosts, that his visit will be more than window-dressing, but the reality is it’s very unlikely. So the visit won’t register as important with Palestinians. They don’t want to be part of some tourist show or box-ticking exercise,” he said.