HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani yesterday presided over the inaugural session of the 24th Arab Summit held at the Sheraton Doha Hotel.
In his speech before the summit HH the Emir said that the Palestinian cause was the core Arab issue and the key for peace, security and stability in the Middle East.
“There is no peace without a just, permanent and comprehensive settlement that addresses the full legitimate rights of the Palestinian people; foremost among these is the establishment of its independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said the Emir.
“Israel has to realise that force does not bring security, and that peace alone would achieve security for all, and that its illegal practices or violation of the sanctity of Al Aqsa Mosque, Judaising of East Jerusalem, pursue of settlement policy and detaining Palestinian captives in Israeli prisons, all these practices and policies would only lead to creating tension in the region, increase despair and frustration among the Palestinian people and putting more hurdles on the path of the already stalled peace process.
“Realising the gravity of continuation of this situation and its repercussions, we propose - for the sake of putting the Palestinian house in order - convening a smaller Arab summit in Cairo at the earliest possible under the chairmanship of the sisterly Arab Republic of Egypt, and the participation of any Arab countries that wish to attend in addition to Fatah and Hamas leaderships,” he said.
Elaborating the Emir said: “The task of this summit – which shouldn’t be wound up before realising that task – is to agree on reaching a Palestinian national reconciliation according to practical executive steps and a specific timetable on the bases of Cairo Agreement 2011 and the Doha agreement 2012, and this includes:
1-Setting up a transitional government from independent figures to oversee the legislative and presidential elections.
2-To agree on a date to hold these elections within a specific timeframe. Those who would remain lagging behind or obstructing this process would bear the responsibility before God, the homeland and the history.
“The place of ascension of the Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - that God has blessed its environs, is the first Qiblah and the third holiest Islamic site is in a very grave danger, that requires serious action to forestall such danger,” he said.
“The Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights in Jerusalem are uncompromising and Israel has to be aware of this fact, also Arab countries should embark on a quick and serious move in this connection.
“In this context, and whereas the Sirte summit resolutions on Jerusalem have unfortunately not been implemented, I call upon your esteemed summit, if we are serious in defending the Arab character of Jerusalem and in order to save what could be saved for the establishment of a fund in support of Jerusalem with a capital of $1bn, provided that it is to be implemented immediately after the conclusion of this summit.
“I declare on behalf of the State of Qatar our contribution of a quarter of a billion dollars to the fund. The remaining sum is to be contributed by capable Arab countries, and I suggest that the Islamic Bank for Development manages this fund.
“I also wish to refer in this respect to the blockade, which the Gaza Strip suffers from and to stress the need for co-operation and work to enable our brothers there to overcome it and to activate all decisions on the reconstruction of the Strip,” he said.
HH the Emir said: “We welcome the participation of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the provisional Syrian government in this summit, no doubt they deserve this representation thanks to the popular legality they gained internally and the massive support abroad, and also because of their historical role in leading the revolution and preparing for building the new Syria.”
He said: “The development of the serious and tragic situation in sisterly Syria took a catastrophic turn over the past two years and led to shameful tragedies and crimes. Since some time ago remaining tight lipped on these crimes and the suffering of the Syrian people inside Syria and in refugees camps has become a crime per se.
“We have built our stance since the outbreak of the crisis on basics that the State of Qatar has remained adhered to, namely:
“First: the immediate cessation of the killing and violence against civilians and to preserve the unity of sisterly Syria’s land and people.
“Second: To achieve the will of the Syrian people regarding the transition of power.
“Third: To support Arab and international efforts and political solutions that achieve the will of the Syrian people and their legitimate aspirations.
“The Syrian people, the descendent of the great civilisation, genuine culture and honest Arabism deserves a free, decent and secure life, its people pass alternately the fair governance, united by sense of belonging to the homeland without suppression, exclusion or marginalisation.”
HH the Emir said: “It may be significant that we always stress our concern about the unity of Syria’s territories and people which is a moral and historical responsibility borne by all of us and no body may disclaim it.
“Also we put emphasis on the national unity which accommodates all and excepts nobody setup a system without seclusion, restraint or discrimination among its citizens and where the homeland is for all and by all.
“It is unfortunate that the Syrian regime is involved in a military confrontation with its people and rejects all calls for serious reform and Arab political initiatives until the catastrophe reached an extent where the dear Syrian people accepts no less than the peaceful transfer of power as stipulated in the Arab League resolution of July 22, 2012.
“History will testify in favour of those who stood by the side of the Syrian people in their ordeal, and will testify against those who let them down.
“We reiterate our call to the Security Council to stand up for truth and justice, and respond to the voice of human conscience against injustice and oppression of peoples, and to issue a resolution for an immediate cessation of bloodshed in Syria and to bring those who are responsible for the crimes committed against its people to the international justice.
From here we renew our commitment to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, and urge all countries of the world to do the same, and emphasise the importance of holding an international conference under the auspices of the UN for the reconstruction of Syria immediately after the transfer of power according to the will of the Syrian people.
“And I’d like to reiterate that we support a political solution that saves the blood and protects the lives, provided that this solution does not turn back the clock. I could see shortly that great Syria rises up from the ruins to build its glory once again.
And as stated in the Holy Qur’an “Slacken not, nor grieve, for you will overcome them if ye are ‘indeed’ believers. If you received a blow, the ‘disbelieving’ people have received a blow the like thereof. These are only vicissitudes which we cause to follow one another for mankind, to the end of that Allah may know those who believe and may choose witnesses from you; and Allah loveth not wrong-doers.”
“The historical transformation currently experienced by our Arab nation requires dealing with it with new thought, new styles and a genuine will for change, which is inspired by the aspirations of peoples and responds to their legitimate ambitions, The regimes must realise that there is no alternative to reform and no room for oppression, repression, tyranny and corruption.
“When I say reform I mean thoughtful reform based on a vision, thought and will, rather than the slogans of reform and fake promises.”
HH the Emir further said: “With reform, the systems of governance would enjoy stability, and the people would be reassured about their present and future. With reform, production and development rates would increase and we would be able to cater for a decent and secure live to our States and peoples, and with reform we shall gain world respect and become an active and effective force therein.
“Out of the human and nationalistic responsibility, we must stand beside our brothers in the Arab Spring countries to surpass the difficult transition phase, which follows any popular revolution. Nobody should be betting on chaos and instability in these countries to alienate people from the trend of change.
“We turn to the political and social forces in these countries to realise that the success of the experience is the responsibility of all of them, and that there is an urgent need for competition to be responsible and subject to the need to secure the success of the experience. This is a national responsibility, which is also an Arab responsibility.
“The path of reform and political transition is a long and arduous one, and the fear of obstacles and setbacks faced and are facing the regimes that are wading through the process of change, is unjustified and premature.
“If the Arab economic support is required for some of these countries it is more urgent for the revolution countries that today pass through a transitional stage that requires support particularly the sisterly Arab Republic of Egypt by virtue of its population density and economic conditions.
“One could not forget the sacrifice made by Egypt and its significant role towards Arab issues and its Arab brothers; therefore, it is the duty of all of us to provide support to the Arab Republic of Egypt in these circumstances.
“We are following the positive developments taking place in Somalia with much hope and we affirm our support and our backing for this brotherly country to be able to surmount the ordeal it is facing.
“The Republic of the Comoros is one of the promising Arab countries that need more attention and economic support to become a model of what can be achieved by Arab co-operation in supporting an Arab country that is in need to be supported by its brothers. There is no doubt that what is being done by the Arab Commission for Development and Investment in Comoros deserves appreciation and requires further encouragement.
“Concerning Darfur, we note with great satisfaction the clear improvement witnessed by that region since the signing of the Doha document on peace and the establishment of the Regional Authority, despite some acts of lawlessness in some areas of the region and tribal disputes that breakout from time to time.
“We believe that the Doha International Conference on the reconstruction and development in Darfur, which convenes in Doha on 7-8 April, would usher Darfur into a new stage of development, stability and peace.”
HH the Emir said: “The rapid economic developments we are witnessing today lead us to consolidate and activate co-operation among us to support the efforts of economic and social development in the Arab countries, because of the strategic dimensions embodied in that co-operation in light of the global trends of establishing major economic blocs.”
“There is no doubt that the achievement of economic, social and political development for our Arab peoples is the optimum way and the essential foundation to achieve the renaissance of our Arab nation at present and in the future.
“We all look forward to a better present and future for our peoples and we believe that the way to do that is to reform, develop and modernise our societies.
“In the same vein, we support the development of the Arab League in line with the current stage of our regional and international surrounding, so as to enhance their capabilities in dealing with the requirements of this stage and at the same time preserving the principles and objectives on which the League was founded.
“The reform and development process of the League should be inspired in the first place by aspirations of the Arab peoples and meeting the legitimate demands of freedom and social justice and in the real Arab solidarity.
“The reform process requires setting clear priorities in the action plan of the League and to reach specific operational programmes to achieve these priorities with the participation of all member states, and stay away from red tape and old-fashioned working methods and to introduce mechanisms that promote the work of the Arab League and uphold standards of efficiency and transparency in the selection of cadres qualified to work at the League.
“In appreciation of the great efforts being exerted by the staff of the Arab League Secretariat while performing their tasks and out of the desire to provide them with decent life after the long years they spent serving the Arab League we feel it is time to set up a pension fund for them and we declare the State of Qatar’s willingness to contribute $10mn to this fund.”