Former Qatari prime minister: Israelis have a right to live in their land

Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani joins an increasing number of Middle Eastern leaders expressing support for Israel's right to exist.

Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani speaks during a news conference at Wajbah Palace, in Doha March 5, 2013.  (photo credit: JACQUELYN MARTIN / POOL / REUTERS)
Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani speaks during a news conference at Wajbah Palace, in Doha March 5, 2013.
Former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani stated on Twitter Wednesday that Israelis have the right to live in their own land, as do the Palestinians. These statements came days after similar remarks by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In a series of Arabic tweets about the state of Qatar in relation to its neighbors in the region, Hamad wrote, "...
Israelis have a right to live in their land in peace and safety, this is my conviction. I've had this conviction for many long years, and I still do."
However, he also lamented that Qatar has "
become a laughing stock that is blackmailed," and that it "wastes our money on ill-conceived agreements and by paying lobbies to influential countries." He went on to say that when discussing Israel's right to safety in its land with said influential countries, "We are timid in mentioning that the Palestinians have their rights as well."
Hamad also called on Qatari leaders to step up and repair ties with the region. "What we need now in our Gulf," he said, "is to advise each other and try to reform the severed ties between our peoples."
"We need," he continued, "o
ne who will rise among us from the defeat and shame that our nation is experiencing. We are not interested in saying things just to impress others." 
He concluded his tweets by saying that
 Qatar's situation has come about "because of a lack of strategy and clear belief in dealing with our disputes and in outlining a desired future for generations to come."
Hamad's statements seem to echo those made earlier this week by Saudi Arabia's crown prince. Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land in an interview published on Monday in US magazine The Atlantic, a public sign of ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem growing closer.
Asked if he believes the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland, the prince was quoted as saying:
"I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."
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"There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries," Prince Mohammed added.
In a follow-up to his son's statements, Saudi
King Salman reaffirmed "the kingdom's steadfast position toward the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.
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In another sign of Qatar's potentially shifting position on Israel, several Jewish-organization heads were invited by Qatari officials in early September to meet with the nation’s leader as part of a wider Qatari campaign to forge relations with the American Jews.
But the Israeli government viewed Qatar’s effort with deep suspicion from the get-go. And when several leaders of US Jewish groups approached Israel’s ambassador, Ron Dermer, for his opinion on whether to meet with the emir, he encouraged them not to go.
According to an Israeli official, Dermer told them in September that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disapproved of the mission, but they met with the emir anyway.
Reuters and Michael Wilner contributed to this report.