Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on Friday blasted the new Israeli government, just a day after it was sworn in, over its plans to expand settlements in the West Bank and supposed “attempts to Judaize” Jerusalem.
The basic principles of Israel’s 37th government include a pledge to act in accordance with the belief that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel,” including in the West Bank, which it will work to “promote and develop.” The principles also state that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “will work to strengthen the status of Jerusalem.”
In Netanyahu’s agreement with Religious Zionism, the prime minister promised to advance annexation of West Bank land, saying he would “lead the formulation and implementation of policy within the framework of which sovereignty will be applied to Judea and Samaria,” the biblical term for the West Bank.
That being said, the framing of the clause allows the prime minister to choose the timing for the implementation of such a policy and to take into consideration Israel’s “national and international interests.”
Netanyahu’s coalition partners also signed deals with Likud that included a commitment to maintaining the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount barring Jewish prayer at the flashpoint site known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif. However, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has vowed to continue visiting the Temple Mount as a cabinet member and blasted what he referred to as the “racism” at the compound that forbids Jewish prayer there.
In its Friday statement, Qatar “expresse[d] its strong condemnation and denunciation the Israeli government’s plans for settlement expansion, its continued attempts to Judaize Al Quds and Al Aqsa mosque, considering them a severe violation of the UN Charter, international law principles, related UN resolutions and a blatant assault on the right of the brotherly Palestinian people.”
The statement said such moves harm efforts to reach a two-state solution and called on the international community “to assume its responsibility in ensuring Israel stops its settlement policy in occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Though they do not have official ties, Jerusalem engages with Doha in order to facilitate the distribution of Qatari aid to the Gaza Strip.
Qatar hosted an Israeli trade office during the 1990s that was shuttered during the Second Intifada.
Due to the lack of diplomatic relations, a special agreement between FIFA, Israel and Qatar was reached before the World Cup to allow the Israeli diplomats to arrive and assist Israelis traveling for the tournament.
Thousands of Israelis traveled to the country for the World Cup, with many describing their reception by Qataris as chilly. Expressions of solidarity with Palestinians were rife both in the stands and on the field — with fans and the Moroccan national team flying the Palestinian flag despite FIFA prohibitions on such political displays.