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Qatar criticizes new coalition plans for 'settlement expansion', 'Judaising' Jerusalem

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Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on Friday criticized the new Israeli government, just one day after being sworn in, over its plans to expand settlements in the West Bank and alleged “attempts to Judaize” Jerusalem.

The core tenets 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 the West Bank, for which it will work to “promote and to develop”. The principles also state that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “will work to strengthen the status of Jerusalem”.

In Netanyahu’s deal with Religious Zionism, the prime minister pledged to move forward with annexing West Bank land, saying he would “lead the formulation and implementation of policy within the framework of which sovereignty will apply to Judea and Samaria,” the term Biblical for the West Bank.

That said, the clause’s framing allows the Prime Minister to choose the timing for implementing such a policy and to take into account Israel’s “national and international interests”.

Netanyahu’s coalition partners also signed agreements with Likud that included a commitment to maintain the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount by preventing Jewish prayer at the hot spot known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. However, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has vowed to continue visiting the Temple Mount as a cabinet member and has criticized what he called “racism” at the compound that bans Jewish prayer there.

In its Friday statement, Qatar “expresses[d] its strong condemnation and denunciation of the Israeli government’s plans for settlement expansion, its continued attempts to Judaize Al Quds and the Al Aqsa mosque, considering them a serious violation of the UN Charter, principles of international law, related UN resolutions and a flagrant attack on the right of the Palestinian people to be brothers”.

The statement said such measures undermine efforts to reach a two-state solution and called on the international community “to assume its responsibility in ensuring that Israel discontinues its policy of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Although they have no official ties, Jerusalem engages with Doha to facilitate the distribution of Qatari aid to the Gaza Strip.

Qatar hosted an Israeli trade office during the 1990s that was closed during the Second Intifada.

Due to the lack of diplomatic relations, a special agreement between FIFA, Israel and Qatar was struck before the World Cup to allow Israeli diplomats to arrive and assist Israelis traveling to the tournament.

Thousands of Israelis traveled to the country for the World Cup, many describing the reception from Qataris as cold. Expressions of solidarity with the Palestinians abounded both in the stands and on the field – with fans and the Moroccan national team flying the Palestinian flag despite FIFA bans on such political displays.

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