HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani has stressed the importance of stopping the war in Gaza without a precondition, adding that "the time is not in our favour especially with the humanitarian situation in Gaza very difficult, particularly in view of the threat against the city of Rafah."
In his speech during a discussion session at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, HE Sheikh Mohamed explained that the past three weeks have witnessed progress in the negotiations between the two parties (Israel and Hamas), yet the last few days have not been progressing as expected.
To a question about Qatar's vision in light of the escalation of the situation in the Middle East, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said: "I believe there are still differences in place between the two parties. We had an agreement in November, when we managed to get 109 hostages out and we had a humanitarian pause for a week."
He said any agreement between both parties should have two elements — one is addressing the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, and the other one regarding the number of the people who will be released in the hostages agreement.
"In this agreement, we are talking about a bigger scale of hostages who will be released and we still see some difficulties on the humanitarian part of these negotiations. We see it really going to enable us and help us to make sure we are putting enough pressure to reduce the numbers of victims and casualties down. If we got some good condition on that side, we can see a deal happening very soon, but the pace in the past two days is not very promising. I always repeat that we will remain optimistic and we always remain pushing and we will try our best to reach this deal because the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dangerous, and especially when it comes to Rafah it is very difficult and we are in a threatening moment."
Responding to a question about the obstacles in reaching an agreement, HE Sheikh Mohamed said: "I cannot disclose much on the details of the negotiations respecting the parties of the negotiations but as I mentioned, we still believe that if we are able to reach an agreement on the humanitarian side, perhaps numbers will remain an obstacle, but not the biggest obstacle. I think that time is not in our favour, Ramadan is ahead of us now, and also as the situation in Rafah is evolving it will be very dangerous for the entire region. I am trying to avoid going into the details of the agreement, yet I think that if we can address and signify the humanitarian package within the agreement, we will be able to get through the obstacles."
Regarding Israel's rejection of the presence of the Hamas movement in any negotiations regarding the Palestinian issue, HE Sheikh Mohamed said: "I think that to be realistic when starting a negotiation about a Palestinian state or the Palestinians' future to look back in the last three decades. We have seen that we are just going into a cycle which never resulted in any progress or solution. On the contrary we have seen a steady increase in the number of settlements and settler violence, continuous violation on the holy sites, provocations happening from time to time. We have seen how many wars we have been through in the last 30 years, and yet we see that talking about the two-state solution is not anymore something happening. We hope that what happened on Oct 7 will represent a wake-up call that the situation is not sustainable and we need to step up and look at a better future for the people in the region whether Palestinians, the Arabs or the Israelis. For everyone we want to see a better future."
He added: "On the issue of Hamas being part of the solution, what we are talking about is the Palestinian representatives. There is the PLO, and it is the representative of the Palestinians. It is the organisation mandated for the negotiations and I believe that whoever the Palestinians agree on should be included. I believe the Palestinians have the right to decide who to be part of them. I want to mention a point raised by Norwegian prime minister which is about a big question mark emerging within the people of our region that right now that the people in Gaza are being killed and being displaced, and we did not see the same stance that happened in different conflicts. When it comes to issues of killing Palestinian people we see an abandonment of the first principles of right and wrong, and I am not meaning only Ukraine, there is Ukraine and other conflicts. We are not really looking at the acts itself, we always determine about the perpetrator and who is affected by the act and decide whether it is right or wrong."
To a question about Qatar's long-term vision regarding the Palestinian Authority, HE Sheikh Mohamed said: "Right now we are focused on the priority which is how to end this war and how to avoid a further escalation. Regarding the PLO and PA, right now the PLO is the recognised representative, the PA is the governing authority of the West Bank and unfortunately after the division not ruling Gaza anymore. We would like to see a unified Palestinian government governing the Palestinian people, whether in the West Bank or Gaza, and certainly all Palestinians will join under the umbrella of the Authority because they want someone to represent the Palestinian people, so that they can achieve their own statehood."
"On the question of Rafah, we see no reason for the continuation of the war in the first place and we know the importance of having a deal to bring hostages to their families, but we also recognise the importance of stopping the war today even without a precondition, and we believe that stopping the war will bring the hostages back home."
He said the return of hostages to their families will end the war, and we hope to see this happening without any further excuses.
Responding to a question about the contradiction in the international position regarding Ukraine and Gaza, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said: As I mentioned we need to apply the same principles to all the conflicts. This is how we see things, this is how we evaluate our position, and this is how our position was when Russia-Ukraine war happened, that is how we kept standing and the same stand we applied to what has happened in Gaza or in any other conflict.
He added: Our worry is that with all these reactions towards the war in Gaza, our people started to raise questions about our friendships, our allies and partnerships with countries in the west that are changing positions just because they are different people which is unfortunately quite dangerous. The second thing I am talking about non state actors who are trying to play a role in this conflict and that is something that we have been warning from the beginning that this conflict might spillover on the entire region and we have seen this happening right now whether in Iraq, Lebanon or in the Red Sea, yet we as countries we are doing our best so that there is no change in our position and so that the people's views regarding our credibility does not change.
Regarding the assessment of China's position in support of the Palestinians in Gaza despite the human rights situation there, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that China's position on the conflict in Gaza right now or even on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a position that we respect and we have seen it very supportive and aligned with the position of the Arab states but your question on internal matters relate to China that is something that I am not in a position to comment on. What we are judging now is the current conflict.
Concluding, His Excellency expressed solidarity with all the people, stressing that all crimes are condemned whoever is the perpetrator, expressing support for the victims and the suffering of both sides the Palestinian and Israelis, while hoping for a better future for everyone and everyone to go back to his home safely.
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