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Posted On: 19 January 2009 12:15 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Moderate Qataris rethink stand on Mideast peace talks

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Moderates in the Qatari community who have been supporting the Middle East peace process say they are in a quandary as Israel continues to violate human rights in Gaza and other Palestinian territories. “We have been backing peace talks much to the opposition of many of our compatriots but Israel has been letting us down as it continues with its inhuman policies in Palestine,” said Hassan Al Jefairi, prominent Qatari community worker and businessman. “As it is, there are fewer moderates in our midst. Their number may not exceed 200 and their fan following may not be more than 10,000. But with Israel pursuing its anti-people policies in the Palestinian territories, we are having a tough time retaining our following,” said Al Jefairi. “People are getting easily upset with us and we are not allowed to speak at public forums for fear we may reiterate our stand on peace talks with Tel Aviv at a time public ire against Israel is peaking due to its aggression in Gaza,” he admitted. The liberals here got their first blow on the contentious issue of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and then followed the issue of Jerusalem. “Every time we have backed peace talks, Israel has backstabbed us. Its actions have been like slaps on our faces.” The liberal movement in Qatar, according to Al Jefairi, began in the 1950s when some people led by his late father came out in open support of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. He was all for political and social reform in the Arab world as against the Muslim Brotherhood movement which advocated religious fundamentalism. People backing the Nasriya (named after Gamal Abdul Nasser) movement here later began backing the Middle East peace process. “And I being a liberal Qatari, was one of them,” said Al Jefairi. But now that it has become almost certain that Israel will not give up its policy of aggression in the Palestinian territories, many of the moderates here are having a change of heart.