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Palestine remains the issue at the Doha Forum

1st Mar 2024
Palestine remains the issue at the Doha Forum

Mahomed Faizal: Doha, Qatar

The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories overshadowed the widely publicised “Building Shared Futures” – themed Doha Forum in Qatar in December.

What had been billed as a forum to explore systems, norms, and institutions that both “honour the dignity and differences of the world’s people while also enabling effective cooperation across powerful divides” was swiftly replaced with anguish, despair, and unimaginable horror at the genocide that was being carried out against Palestinians by the Israeli state.

Forum host and opening speaker, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “The unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe that is happening in Gaza is prompting free people around the world to ask legitimate questions about the nature of the international system, the effectiveness of its legal tools, and the sincerity of its principles.”

“These questions are becoming more urgent as we increasingly witness painful scenes. We may turn away from these horrors, but they are undeniable realities that 2.3 million people have been enduring every day for more than 60 days,” Sheikh Thani added.

He commented on the hypocrisy displayed by Western nations regarding the targeting of civilians, stating that it was unfortunate for some people to accept false reasons for such actions, as the targeting of civilians is unacceptable under any pretext.

“International law, alongside our humanitarian and religious values, demands that we ensure their protection, and our condemnation of their killing, besiegement, and starvation is a firm, unwavering, and principled position,” al Thani added.

He also criticised the double standards that have divided the world between those demanding an end to this war and a stop to the killing and those refusing to call for a ceasefire.

“And we see those who were calling for a global stance against the occupation in another context, refuse to even condemn the crimes of the occupation in the Palestinian territories today, and stand as an obstacle to achieving international consensus to stop the conflict,” he stressed.

Al Thani stressed that the “conflict has and continues to be a matter of illegal occupation and a claim for the stolen right to self-determination. Over the past decades, the option of peace has always been on the table, but it has been the victim of intentional delay and attempts at prolongation.”

Husam Zomlot, Palestine Ambassador to the UK, said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would continue with the killings until US President Joe Biden signalled the ‘costs and consequences’ of Israel’s brazen violation of the Geneva Conventions over the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran had issued warnings to Israel and its ally, the United States, about the possibility of “the expansion of the conflict and the explosion of the situation” in the region due to the increasing bombing of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

During a video linkup to the Forum, Abdollahian denounced Israel’s massacre of innocent men, women, and children and stressed the need for America to stop its support for Israeli actions and to call for a ceasefire.

The Foreign Minister emphasised that any political solution to the Palestinian issue must be determined by the Palestinians themselves because “everyone has the right to determine their fate, and thus an end to this issue will be achieved.” Abdollahian said that the only common thing between Iran and Israel is that both do not believe in a two-state solution.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that it was unacceptable that Israel was using the events of October 7 as justification for a collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza. It was due to “decades and decades of a blockade [in Gaza] and decades and decades of unfulfilled promises to the Palestinians that they would have a state, living side by side with Israel in security and good neighbourliness,” he said.

Criticizing the West’s dominance over the unipolar world order, Lavrov said: “Its domination was based on a diverse history, including the ruthless exploitation of the peoples and territories of other countries.

In any case, based on these five hundred years, the United States and its allies built the model of globalisation, which they believed would serve them well enough to continue to be the number one in the economy, military exercises, culture, politics, and so forth. And they thought that they would be using this globalisation scheme to continue their dominance.”

“However, other countries, using exactly the principles and instruments of Western globalisation, managed to beat the West on its own turf, building economies based on national sovereignty and a balance of interests with other countries. And as this process continued, the new centres of economic growth, financial power, and political influence started to emerge,” Lavrov added.

“We see this process very much underway, which is clearly changing the balance of power in the world, and not to the West’s liking. To suppress this kind of development, any dissent, our Western colleagues decided to sacrifice all the principles of globalisation, which they have been selling to everybody for decades and decades, including the free market, fair competition, inviolability of property, and the presumption of innocence. All this was sacrificed for the sake of a rules-based world order.

The rules were never published, were never even announced by anyone to anyone, and they are being applied depending on what exactly the West needs at a particular moment in modern history,” said the Russian Foreign Minister.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, said Israel was conducting a war against the Palestinians that meets the “legal definition of genocide.”

“What we are seeing in Gaza is not just simply the killing of innocent people and the destruction of their livelihoods, but a systematic effort to empty Gaza of its people,” Safadi said.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), also accused Israel of planning a mass expulsion of people from Gaza into Egypt.

Lazzarini said the widespread destruction in the Palestinian territory’s north and the resulting displacements were “the first stage of such a scenario.”

“If this path continues, leading to what many are already calling a second Nakba, Gaza will not be a land for Palestinians anymore,” Lazzarini said.

Photo: Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar (Credit: Violaine Martin/UN)



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