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Qatari official rules out ties with Israel

Qatari official rules out ties with Israel
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A Qatari official ruled out normalizing ties with Israel during a Monday interview, a day ahead of the signing of an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. 

Qatari assistant foreign minister Lolwah Alkhater told Bloomberg News that Qatar would not join other Gulf Arab countries in creating diplomatic relations with Israel until Israel resolved its conflict with the Palestinians. 

“We don’t think that normalization was the core of this conflict and hence it can’t be the answer,” Alkhater said. “The core of this conflict is about the drastic conditions that the Palestinians are living under” as “people without a country, living under occupation.”

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Alkhater’s comments came ahead of Tuesday’s White House signing ceremony where Emirati and Bahraini officials plan to sign an agreement to start up diplomatic relations with Israel. 

The Trump administration orchestrated the historic agreement between the UAE and Israel last month in a foreign policy win ahead of the election. Bahrain announced on Friday that it would become the second Arab nation to also join the agreement.

The Emirati and Bahraini governments are both allies with Saudi Arabia, while Qatar has had a tempestuous relationship with the Saudi government. 

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 over a rift over Qatar's relationship with Iran. 

Iran is also at the center of the agreement being signed at the White House on Tuesday, which is aimed in part at further isolating Iran.

President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE and administrators have said they think more Arab nations will enter a deal, with White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerNYC voters set to decide Vance's replacement amid Trump probe Kushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 The Israel-Hamas ceasefire is holding — what's next? MORE saying he felt it was an “inevitability” that all Middle Eastern nations would normalize relations with Israel. 

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Palestinians view the agreements as a betrayal of their push for statehood.

In the Bloomberg News interview, Alkhater also hinted that the three-year-old boycott against Qatar might be moving toward an end. 

“In the past couple of months, there have been messages and messengers going back and forth,” she said. “It’s very early to talk about a real breakthrough,” but “the coming few weeks might reveal something new.”