Qatar condemned after backtracking on Makkah summits declaration

Qatar's Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani attends the Arab summit in Makkah. (Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2019

Qatar condemned after backtracking on Makkah summits declaration

  • Qatar's foreign minister said Doha could not support the communique because it contradicted Qatar’s 'foreign policy'
  • The UAE and Bahrain accused Qatar of backtracking on what had been agreed at the meetings

JEDDAH: Qatar on Sunday said it rejected the final declaration of Arab and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summits held in Makkah last week, despite originally endorsing the statement.

Doha could not support the communique because it contradicted Qatar’s foreign policy, the Qatari foreign minister said.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al Jubeir, accused Qatar of distorting the facts, while the UAE and Bahrain said Doha had gone back on what had been agreed at the meetings

"Qatar had reservations today about two statements that reject Iranian interference in the affairs of the regional states, and the Arab summit’s statement confirmed the centrality of the Palestinian cause and the establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance with the borders of 67, with East Jerusalem as the capital. Everyone knows that Qatar’s distortion of the truth is not surprising," Al-Jubeir said on Twitter.

Al-Jubeir said Qatar should have made its position clear during the meeting. "Countries that make their own decisions when participating in conferences and meetings announce their positions and reservations in the context of meetings and in accordance with norms, not after the meetings," he said. 

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said Qatar’s change of position pointed to weakness and a lack of credibility.

"It seems to me that to attend and agree in meetings then retract what was agreed upon is either the result of pressure on the vulnerable who lost their sovereignty, bad intentions or lack of credibility, and these factors could be combined," he tweeted.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Al-Khalifa, said the move demonstrated the weakness of Qatar’s relations with its neighbors.

In a statement, he said "Qatar’s unresponsiveness to the fair demands that were presented by our countries has led to the persistence of its crisis and prolongation."

"We have no interest in prolonging Qatar’s crisis, but it does not want a solution after it disagreed with its brothers, a matter that absolutely does not redound to the benefit of brotherly Qatari citizens who will remain an integral part of the Gulf’s society whose countries and people are linked by the unity of purpose and a shared destiny," he said. 

Qatar has been boycotted by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since June 2017 over its support for extremist groups and for its close relations with Iran.

Despite the breakdown in relations, Saudi Arabia's King Salman invited Doha to attend emergency meetings of the GCC and Arab League last week in Makkah. The meetings were called in response to an increase in tensions with Iran.

The communique released Friday strongly condemned Iran for destabilizing the region and said Tehran “posed a direct and serious threat.”

“The statements of the Gulf and Arab summits were ready in advance and we were not consulted on them,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Al-Araby broadcaster. “Qatar has reservations on the Arab and Gulf summits because some of their terms are contrary to Doha's foreign policy.”


Trump: Mideast peace plan likely rolled out in days

Updated 24 January 2020

Trump: Mideast peace plan likely rolled out in days

JERUSALEM: President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’ll likely release the long-awaited White House Mideast peace plan before his meeting early next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival Benny Gantz.
“It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One en route to a Republican Party meeting in Florida.
He said he was surprised that both Netanyahu and Gantz were willing to take a break from campaigning for the March 2 elections to join him Tuesday in Washington.
“They both would like to do the deal. They want to see peace,” Trump said. “Look, Israel wants peace, Palestinians want peace. They all want peace. Not everyone wants to say it.”
He said his administration has talked briefly to the Palestinians, who have rejected the administration’s peace plan before it even comes out.
“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” Trump said. “And they have a lot of incentive to do it. I’m sure they maybe will react negatively at first, but it’s actually very positive to them.”
Vice President Mike Pence announced the invitation for Netanyahu and Gantz to visit during at a meeting with the prime minister in Jerusalem after addressing an international forum Thursday on the Holocaust. He said that at Netanyahu’s request, the invitation was also issued to Gantz, a former army chief.
The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel, and is unlikely to garner any international support if it is seen as undermining the prospect of a two-state solution.
“We have had no better friend than President Trump,” Netanyahu said. “With this invitation, I think that the president is seeking to give Israel the peace and security that it deserves.”
The Palestinians rejected Trump’s peace efforts after he recognized disputed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US Embassy there in May 2018. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war and annexed, to be their capital.
“If this deal is announced with these rejected formulas, the leadership will announce a series of measures in which we safeguard our legitimate rights, and we will demand Israel assume its full responsibilities as an occupying power,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He appeared to be referring to oft-repeated threats to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, which has limited autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. That would force Israel to resume responsibility for providing basic services to millions of Palestinians.
“We warn Israel and the US administration from crossing the red lines,” Abu Rdeneh said.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV, citing Israeli officials, said the plan is expected to be extremely favorable toward Israel and offer it control over large parts of the occupied West Bank. The Palestinians seek the entire territory, which was also captured by Israel in 1967, as the heartland of a future independent state. Most of the international community supports the Palestinian position.
Netanyahu has said he plans to annex the Jordan Valley as well as Jewish settlements across the West Bank, which would all but extinguish any possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state.
Netanyahu has tried to make that the cornerstone of his campaign for reelection following unprecedented back-to-back elections last year that left him in a virtual tie with Gantz, with neither able to cobble together a ruling coalition.
The deadlock was deepened by Netanyahu’s indictment last year on serious charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust stemming from three long-running corruption investigations. Netanyahu has asked Israel’s parliament to grant him immunity.
Next week’s meeting could produce an awkward scene. Gantz has made Netanyahu’s indictment the focus of his campaign to oust the prime minister. And his Blue and White party is leading an effort in parliament to block Netanyahu’s immunity request before the election. At the same time, they will be joined by an impeached president who is being tried in the Senate.
The US was believed to be holding back on releasing the peace plan until Israel had a permanent government. Those calculations may have changed as the deadlock in Israeli politics looks to be further prolonged.
Trump may also be looking for a boost from evangelical and pro-Israel supporters as the Senate weighs whether to remove him from office after he was impeached last month, and as he gears up for a reelection battle this year.
Pence was among dozens of world leaders in Jerusalem on Thursday for the World Holocaust Forum. Many of the participants, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, also paid visits to the Palestinians in the West Bank.
A Palestinian official said Abbas asked the visiting French and Russian presidents to support the Palestinian position when the plan is published.
“He asked them to refuse and act against any Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing closed meetings.
While the plan is expected to be friendly to Israel, it could still face opposition from Netanyahu’s hard-line partners.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the ultranationalist Yamina party, called Trump a “true friend” of Israel and said the country likely stands before a “historic opportunity.” But he said his party would not allow the transfer of any land to Palestinian control or for a Palestinian state to be established.