Qatar emir renews support for Hamas

AFP , Monday 5 Sep 2011

Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani re-accentuates his country's support for Hamas, a hardly accepted position for the USA and the European Union

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani (Right) welcomes Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Left)before a meeting in Doha December 8, 2010 (Photo:Reuters)

Qatar's emir on Monday reaffirmed his country's support of Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls Gaza and which the European Union and the United States blacklist as a terrorist group.

"We support the Palestinian people of Gaza, whom Israel does not like. But Israel now considers that the establishment of a Palestinian state is more dangerous than Hamas," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani told the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel.

Israel in August expressed its anger with Qatar over the Gulf emirate's growing ties with Gaza's Hamas rulers. "We are angry with Qatar because it supports Hamas," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

Qatar announced it was severing ties with the Jewish state during Operation Cast Lead, Israel's massive 22-day assault on Gaza which began at the end of December 2008.

But although the head of the Israeli delegation in Doha was ordered to leave, the Qatari authorities allowed the delegation's offices to remain open in order not to totally end the relationship, Israel's Maariv daily said.

In March, however, Israel took steps to cut all remaining ties and shut down the delegation's offices, Maariv reported.

Israel is also angry with Qatar over the legal and political support it has been providing to the Palestinian leadership in its bid for UN membership in September, the paper said.

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