The new Emir of Qatar has used his maiden speech to pledge his country's ongoing support for the people of Palestine. Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on Wednesday that his country will not accept sectarianism in the Middle East and stressed that no peace agreement can be reached with Israel unless there is also justice for the Palestinians.
Qatar is, said the Emir, keen to maintain relations with all countries in the region and beyond. "As a country and nation we do not take the side of any political party or group; we respect all."
Noting the rise of sectarianism in the Middle East, Shaikh Tamim said: "We, as Muslims, respect the diversity within our faith as well as all religions in our own countries and others. As Arabs, we refuse to accept the division of Arab society along sectarian lines." Sectarianism, the Emir pointed out, hinders development and affects the social and economic integrity of society. He warned that it also gives foreign powers the pretext to interfere in Arab affairs and impose their hegemony on the region.
Shaikh Tamim insisted that Qatar is obliged to stand with the Palestinians in their struggle for their legitimate rights. "Qatar sides with a just peace which upholds Palestinian rights represented by an Israeli withdrawal from all Arab land occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, the establishment of a viable, independent state and the return of refugees to their land." In this sense, he added, Qatar is the "destination of the oppressed" because it is ready to host talks or mediate in any conflict.