Qatari FM Says No Plans Now to Cut Trade Ties with Israel
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem Al-Thani said Monday that the Gulf state had no plans to cut trade links with Israel at the moment despite the wave of violence rocking the Palestinian territories.
"If this will solve the crisis then we are ready to do it now but it's not time now," Al-Thani told reporters after meeting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.
Qatar set up commercial links with Israel in 1996 when Nobel peace prize winner Shimon Peres was Israel's prime minister and hopes for peace remained high.
Oman, the only other Gulf state that had ties with Israel, shut its commercial representation in Tel Aviv and Israel's trade office in Muscat on October 12 because of the Israeli-Palestinian violence.
During his visit to Gaza, Al-Thani visited wounded Palestinians being treated in Shifa hospital and donated blood.
Last week, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Sadr said that the Muslim world expected Qatar to close its liaison offices with Israel before taking over the presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference later this month.
Qatar is due to take over the OIC's rotating presidency from Iran at a gathering in Doha beginning November 9 – GAZA CITY (AFP)
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