Bahrain rejected Friday Qatar's claim to "legitimate rights" over the Bahraini-controlled Hawar Islands, saying the two countries should wait for the International Court of Justice to decide in the dispute.
A Bahraini foreign ministry official, cited by the official news agency GNA, said Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani's claims to rights over the island were "astonishing."
"The truth is that not a single Qatari has ever lived on the Hawar Island for well over a century. No one can 'return' to Qatar what Qatar never had," the Bahraini official said.
"The time has now come to let the (world court) judges decide in serenity and according to historical facts and international law," the official said.
The Qatari emir told his country's consultative council Tuesday that the Hawar Islands were granted to Bahrain by the British in 1939 "in an arbitrary and illegal decision based on political and economic considerations, represented by oil interests, and are just a few meters from our coasts."
"We hope the court will re-establish the legitimate rights of Qatar," Sheikh Khalifa said.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague wound up in June a five-week public hearing into the territorial dispute between Qatar and Bahrain, which almost drove the two countries to war in 1986 -- MANAMA (AFP)
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