Hamas backs Qatar minister's 'courage' in Israel spat

AFP , Monday 9 Feb 2015

A Qatar-based senior Hamas leader on Monday praised the Gulf state's "courageous" foreign minister, Khalid al-Attiyah, after an apparent spat with Israel's intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz at a German security conference.

In a statement, Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas's political bureau in Doha, backed Qatar's foreign minister for his "strong, courageous statements and response to the lies of the 'Zionists', and his defence of Hamas and the resistance during the Munich security conference".

At Sunday's conference, Attiyah said during a panel discussion that failure to make progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was "the main igniter to all the turbulence in the Middle East".

Qatar's foreign minister also asked why Israel wanted to be recognised as a Jewish state.

"The world is fighting a group calling itself Islamic State, and you want to come and say [you are] a Jewish state," he said.

In response, Steinitz questioned why Qatar is "supporting a jihadist organisation like Hamas or Islamic State, instead of putting all its efforts into eliminating such jihadi organisations".

The exchange between the two ministers was reported in several media outlets, including on Al-Jazeera Arabic.

Qatar denies backing the Islamic State group or extremist movements.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, who is based in the Gulf state, was told by Attiyah last month that he remained welcome amid reports that the Palestinian leader had been asked to leave.

Attiyah said Meshaal was "a dear guest in Qatar. He is in fact at home."

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