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HE. Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process

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HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani calls on the UN to 'investigate the measures Israel has taken to Judaise Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967'

Qatar yesterday urged the UN to investigate Jewish settlement expansion in Arab East Jerusalem, warning that Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories was unacceptable. 'We must act quickly to stop the Judaisation of Jerusalem,' said HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in his opening remarks at the International Conference on Jerusalem (Al-Quds) in Doha. The two-day conference, which brings together international and regional experts and officials, is intended to address an Israeli push to cement its control over the occupied eastern sector of the holy city. In his remarks, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa called on the UN to 'investigate the measures Israel has taken to Judaise Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967'. He said such an investigation would constitute the first step towards 'forcing Israel to reverse those measures'. Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has proved one of the thorniest issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians. Direct talks that began in September 2010 broke down shortly after they started over the issue, when Israel declined to renew a partial settlement freeze and the Palestinians said they would not continue talks without a new moratorium. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and adamantly reject Jewish settlement construction in the territory. They accuse the Jewish state of building settlement neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, while denying Palestinian building permits and revoking their residency in a bid to rid the city of Arab residents. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa warned that public opinion in the Arab world, where months of popular protests overthrew four long-time strongmen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen 'has awakened and will not accept” anything 'less than a just peace based on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people'. 'Is it conceivable that the people that could no longer tolerate oppression at home will accept the oppression of a foreign occupation?' he asked. HH the Emir called on the Palestinian leadership to exert every possible effort to preserve the Arab identity of Al-Quds and to enforce national reconciliation and to prepare a comprehensive and expanded strategy on various sectors and projects needed for the city, underlining Qatar’s willingness to participate to its full potential to accomplish and implement it. He underlined that the meeting had affirmed the Arab identity of Al-Quds since the third millennium BC. 'The Israelis do not realise that there is no Palestinian state without Al-Quds and there is no Al-Quds without Al-Aqsa Mosque.' Since 1948, the Israeli governments had been in ongoing operations to rewrite the history of Al-Quds through marginalisation and abolition of all historical periods, the Emir noted. He regretted that the Arab countries were not making all the needed efforts to preserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Al-Quds. 'What Israeli is doing in Al-Quds is definitely a clear violation of international law and … of numerous resolutions of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly concerning the rights of the Palestinian people. Therefore, the current status of Al-Quds requires a firm stand to face the blatant Israeli challenge which makes the Arab identity of Al-Quds in big danger.' HH the Emir underlined that protecting Al-Quds would not be accomplished through slogans, speeches and conferences, pointing to a former Israeli prime minister’s remarks that the happiest day in her life was when Muslims only denounced and condemned the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque which she had thought would be the end of Israel. The Emir stressed the importance of Arab unity in facing the Israeli violations and in preserving Al-Quds’ identity, saying that all countries and governments in the world must realise that there is a unified Arab stand that will only accept a just peace based on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The Emir reaffirmed Qatar’s support to the Palestinian people and their steadfastness of Al-Quds and their legitimate demands in establishing the independent state of Palestine. He called on civil society organisations, as a key partner with governments, to shoulder their responsibilities towards protecting Al-Quds and preserving its Arab and Islamic identity. Israel occupied Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it later in a move never recognised by the international community. It claims all of Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who was attending the two-day conference told participants that 'the measures of annexation... are null and void. East Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine.' The opening of the two-day conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel was attended by the Speaker of the Advisory Council, the ministers, heads of the diplomatic corps accredited to the country and guests. Qatar ‘standing beside the Palestinian people’ HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has underlined that the projects in Jerusalem, referred to in his speech at the opening session of the International Conference on Jerusalem, are to be implemented by the Palestinians themselves. 'We are following this closely,' Qatar News Agency (QNA) quoted him as saying. HH the Emir also said at the end of the opening session that “the State of Qatar might be the only country that had stood beside the Palestinian people in Gaza when it was besieged and bombarded, a matter which was known by the people of Gaza and we also stood with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon during the Israeli aggression'.

Gulf Times