The Arab nations view Hamas as a “legitimate resistance movement” and not a “terrorist organisation as viewed by the US”, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said.
In an interview with Russia Today during a visit he paid to Moscow on Saturday, the Qatari foreign minister rejected accusations that Qatar was supporting Hamas.
“The US views Hamas as a terror organisation. But to the rest of the Arab nations, it is a legitimate resistance movement. We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people,” he said.
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Hamas is the Palestinian group that has governed Gaza since 2007. The small strip of land, home to nearly two million Palestinians, has been under a crippling Israeli blockade for a decade.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar must end its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood before ties with other Gulf Arab states could be restored.
Jubeir added that Qatar was undermining the Palestinian Authority and Egypt in its support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We don’t think this is good. Qatar has to stop these policies so that it can contribute to stability in the Middle East,” he said.
Qatar’s foreign minister, however, added that the country’s stance was in line with other Gulf states.
“Hamas’ presence in Qatar doesn’t mean there’s support for Hamas in Qatar, which cooperates with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas’ presence is a political representation of the Hamas movement.”
Qatar’s foreign minister told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the presence of Hamas’ leaders in Qatar’s capital Doha was “coordinated with the US” and aimed at facilitating Palestinian unity.
“Hamas’ presence [in Doha] is coordinated with the US and the countries in the region, and it’s part of our effort to mediate between the Palestinian factions to reach reconciliation.”
Hamas, meanwhile, said it was “shocked” by Saudi Arabia’s call on Qatar to stop supporting the group.
Jubeir’s remarks “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations”, according to a Hamas statement released on Wednesday.