HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has called for “equitable” treatment of the Palestinian people at the UN, urging the international organisation to help them set up their independent state when they declare its establishment at the UN General Assembly as expected this month.
In an exclusive interview relayed by Al Jazeera television channel yesterday evening, the Emir said that Israel must be able to read in the changes sweeping the Arab world and realise that the political scene had changed and that it was now in the midst of emerging Arab democracies.
The State of Qatar, he noted, supported the Palestinian people in Gaza, a fact with which Israel was not satisfied. “The Hamas government came to power through elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Hence, it is considered a legitimate government. And as such, even if we are supporting Hamas, we are backing a legitimate government.”
In remarks on the situation in Libya, he denied that Qatar had any ambitions in that Arab country. “All know that Qatar is rich and is in no need of others’ help. We interfered there for the sake of the Libyan people. In the meantime, it is unthinkable that the Libyan people would allow their wealth to be plundered or exploited.’’
Answering a question on Syria’s reported refusal to receive an Arab League delegation, the Emir said there was no official confirmation of such press reports from Damascus and that the Arab League secretary general would be heading to Damascus carrying an Arab initiative.
In reference to the objectives of the conference of the Contact Group on Libya which was recently held in Paris, the Emir said it came on the heels of the liberation of most of Libyan towns and after the National Transitional Council, the rebels and the army had wrested power in most of those areas.
“I think the most important aspect of the Paris conference was the presence of some 60 countries, a number higher than what we had expected, including ones that hesitated in recognising the NTC.”
The conference, he said, discussed how to help unblock Libyan assets abroad in order to help the Libyan people pursue the process of development. “The Libyans have already started working out plans to carry out projects for schools and hospitals.”
On fears of a setback for the revolution, he said there was no need for such feeling as the NTC had started to wrench power in towns and villages.
On the presence of Muslim extremists among the rebels as reported in the West, he said the issue of the extremists, Al Qaeda or Jihadists, whatever the name, was there. However, the question is whether the revolutions would lead to democracy. The extremism of those is the result of the repressive governments or dictators, but with popular participation extremism could give way to civil life and society.
“I know that in Libya those taunted as extremists believe in civil society, pluralism and democratic life.”
He also touched on Qatar’s participation in the international campaign to topple the former Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. He said he wished that Qatar, in co-operation with all other Arab countries, was capable of taking the decision without involving non-Arabs. “Qatar has sympathised with the Libyan people who appealed to it, through direct contacts or through the media, for help to end their plight. Qatar felt it was necessary to respond, with the help of any group.”
He said that Qatar first acted in co-operation with the GCC before the issue was shifted to the Arab League and later moved to the UN Security Council.
HH expressed his appreciation of the non-Arab forces’ participation in the campaign for freeing the Libyan people from repression.
Answering a question on the reported ambitions in Libya’s oil and gas wealth of some countries that took part in the campaign to topple Gaddafi , he said: “All know that Qatar is rich and is in no need of others’ help. We interfered there for the sake of the Libyan people. In the meantime, it is unthinkable that the Libyan people would allow their wealth to be plundered or exploited only because there are countries that helped them gain freedom.’’
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