Qatar says Israel will take part in WTO meeting in Doha
Israel will take part in a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting to be held in Doha in November, a senior Qatari official said in statements published Friday, July 13. Qatar has frozen ties with the Jewish state, whose trade office in Doha was closed down last November on the eve of an Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit there amid criticism from other Arab and Islamic countries.
"All WTO member states, including Israel, will take part in the Doha conference," insisted Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal Al-Thani, head of the Qatari committee helping to organize the conference.
"Qatar is not empowered to say who is and who is not taking part in the conference. The issue of participation is dealt with by the WTO," Sheikh Hamad said, quoted by Qatar's Al-Raya newspaper.
"It is the WTO that is organizing the conference and handles requests to take part. Consequently, all member states have the right to take part in the Doha conference and Qatar cannot stop them from doing so," he added.
Sheikh Hamad said Qatar had received no objection from any Arab or Islamic country to Israel's presence at the conference, taking place November 9-13. "I hope the conference will not be politicized because it is an economic forum," he said, stressing that Qatar "adopts an automatic position in favor of the Palestinian cause."
Qatar froze its ties with Israel following the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, the uprising against Israeli occupatio,n which began at the end of September and is still raging. Sheikh Hamad added that "peaceful demonstrations will be allowed."
Human rights groups have argued that the conservative Gulf state would have no qualms about cracking down on protesters during the conference.
Many anti-globalization demonstrators rampaged through the streets of the US city of Seattle during the last WTO ministerial conference in November 1999, and seriously disrupted the meeting. — (AFP, Doha)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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