Qatar still considers Hamas a 'legitimate resistance movement'
While the boycott against the Gulf state continues to expand, the Qatari foreign minister slams Arab countries for criticizing his country's support for Hamas: 'If Hamas is a terrorist movement, why is it not included in their list of terrorist organizations?' Despite rhetoric, FM clarifies that the organization's leadership has left.
In light of the Arab boycott of Qatar due to its support for terrorism, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in an interview with the Russian RT channel during his visit to Moscow that in the eyes of Arab countries, Hamas is a legitimate resistance movement. However, he added that Hamas would no longer be governed from Qatar and in fact confirmed that its members were no longer in the Gulf state.
Al-Thani made his comments after a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov aimed to solve the row that Qatar does not support Hamas, but rather the Palestinian people. "Our support for the Palestinian people is clear; we are cooperating with the official Palestinian Authority. The presence of Hamas in Qatar does not mean there is support for Hamas in Qatar.
"Now the leadership of the movement is in Palestine, but Qatar is responsible on behalf of its international partners to support the Palestinian cause."
"We act on this issue with all transparency, everyone knows that," added al-Thani. "There are senior Hamas figures and senior Fatah members. These are the two main components of government in Palestine."
The Qatari foreign minister then criticized the Arab countries which now accuse Qatar of supporting the movement, asking "If they think Hamas is a terrorist organization, why is it not included in the list of terrorist organizations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its member countries?"
"Hamas is not included in their terrorist lists, and is, in fact, a legitimate resistance movement in the eyes of every Arab nation," answered al-Thani.
Hamas thanked the Qatari foreign minister for his statement that Hamas was a "legitimate resistance movement." Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the organization, said that the statement reflected Qatar's true values and principles towards the Palestinian people and its legitimate resistance.
"As a matter of policy, we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries or their bilateral relations with each other. But it does not give us joy when relations between our partners deteriorate," Lavrov told Qatar's foreign minister.
Meanwhile, the rift continues as other countries pitch in to voice their opinion on the matter.
Earlier Saturday, US President Donald Trump called on Qatar to stop funding terrorism, claiming credit for and endorsing the decision of Gulf nations to ostracize their neighbor, even as US Cabinet officials said their blockade is hurting the campaign against ISIS.
"We had a decision to make," Trump said, describing conversations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. "Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism."
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain welcomed Trump's demand for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism, but did not respond to a US Department of State call for them to ease pressure on the Gulf state.
(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)