Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani hailed the Lebanese victory over Israel yesterday during a visit to Lebanon.
After a meeting at the presidential palace, the Emir said, “I am happy to meet with President Emile Lahoud today and especially at this time where the Lebanese people and its resistance have achieved the first Arab victory, which we have wanted for long years. I spoke with Presidents Emile Lahoud, Nabih Berri and Fouad Siniora about the common Arab future, in this delicate period especially regarding the Security Council and how we present our cause and the implementation of international resolutions on the Palestinian issue and the Lebanese, as well as peace in the region, including Syria.”
“I believe that there is greater opportunity for peace, more than before,” he said at a news conference with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. “As far as the Israelis are concerned, they used to be able to subjugate the Arabs by military force. Now this is no longer possible after what happened in south Lebanon.”
The emir urged Israel to lift its naval and air blockade of Lebanon in line with the requirements of the cease-fire resolution, disclosing that even his flight had to have clearance from the Israelis before landing in Beirut.
“So that we get to Beirut, Israel must approve,” he said. “Any plane that comes here, the Israeli control tower must approve it. We are not shy about this but we hope in the future this subject (blockade) is removed and that Israel implements the latest Security Council resolution. This is what we ask for.”
Sheik Hamad rejected the Israeli contention that the blockade was to prevent Hezbollah from rearming, saying Lebanon has the same rights to self-defense as Israel.
“We are for any country defending its territory and establishing its own state,” he said.
“I believe it is unacceptable that arms are banned to the Lebanese and allowed to the Israelis. He who believes in this theory wants to place Lebanon in a cage so that it could be easy prey for Israel at any time,” the emir said.
He also declared that Israel’s commando raid deep inside Lebanon on Saturday was a violation “that did not conform with latest Security Council resolution.”
When asked about whether the day would come when the Arabs again could commit to an Oil embargo as they did in the 1973 Mideast War, the Emir said, “”If the oil weapon (embargo) was used it would have served the Lebanese interest, but unfortunately it was not used,”
Qatar came under heavy criticism during the 34-day war when it was revealed that The United States provided Israel with some 100 “bunker buster” bombs by way of a U.S. military base in Qatar.