Doha and Vienna established diplomatic ties since 1975.
Qatar slammed Israel’s “expansionist policy” as the occupying state continues to crackdown on Palestinian lands while demolishing houses and graves.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani made the comments during a press conference in Doha on Wednesday alongside his Austrian counterpart Michael Linhart.
“We have repeated this plenty of times, this expansionist policy that Israel is doing by expanding settlements and escalating against the Palestinian people is a huge violation and unfortunately we have seen the international community deal with this issue in double standards,” said Sheikh Mohammed, responding to a question from Doha News.The Qatari diplomat added that continued provocation is “not helpful” in the Palestinian peace process and is making the international community “lose hope” in establishing stability in the occupied country.
Shocking footage that emerged online showed devastated Palestinian families being dragged away from graves of their loved ones as Israeli forces prepared to demolish the site.
Responding to the same question regarding Israel’s settlement expansion in the West Bank, Linhart said the topic will come up during his visit to Tel Aviv “soon”.
Israel’s new Naftali Bennett administration is building 1,300 new settlement units in the West Bank, demolishing thousands of houses belonging to Palestinians while also destroying graves to make way for a theme park.
Israel’s move was condemned by its ally the US, which described its actions on Tuesday as “deeply concerning”.
“We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
All Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law.
Issues of common concern
The Qatari and Austrian diplomats also discussed issues of mutual concern at the press conference, including the Iran nuclear deal and the latest developments in Afghanistan.
“Regarding the nuclear deal, we call on all sides to return to negotiations as soon as possible and try to reach an agreement that will contribute to ensuring peace and security in our region,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
Qatar has long called for the restoration of the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] and supported the Vienna talks, which paused ahead of the election of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi.
Linhart also said his country is ready to host talks in Vienna while expressing his hope in seeing his Qatari counterpart in the Austrian capital.
Sheikh Mohammed noted a long discussion with Linhart regarding Afghanistan to try find a resolution in the war-torn country.
“Qatar appreciates Austria’s role in establishing global peace and stability and we look forward to working with it in various fronts,” said the Qatari diplomat.
Meanwhile, Linhart stressed that Afghanistan cannot become a “security blackhole or a safe haven for terrorism”, amid concerns over terrorist threats by ISIS-K as well as a Taliban takeover.
The Austrian diplomat also said his country donated €20 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
Responding to a question over the recognition of the Taliban, Sheikh Mohammed reiterated that this matter is not a priority as the humanitarian situation has to be addressed first.
“We cannot abandon a country because a new de facto government is in place…we cannot neglect the fact that there is a country there called Afghanistan that we recognise,” he said.
Sheikh Mohammed confirmed Doha will spare no effort in continuing to mediate between all sides in Afghanistan.
Qatar-Austria bilateral ties
Qatar’s foreign minister expressed his hope in seeing more bilateral visits between Doha and Vienna as the two countries collaborate in various industries, including technology and renewable energy.
Echoing the same statements, Linhart also noted “Qatar is an extremely important partner”.
“Many Austrian countries are present here [Qatar], they have contributed to the infrastructure and the entrepreneurship…there’s definitely more potential here,” said Linhart.
Doha and Vienna established diplomatic ties in 1975.