Lebanese cleric slams FM's Qatar trip

Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah calls Livni's visit and comments "a big insult to all Arabs and Muslims."

Lebanon's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric sharply criticized Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's visit to Qatar and said Tuesday that her comments about Hizbullah and Hamas reflect Israel's "brazenness and arrogance." Livni's two-day visit to Doha was her first to any Gulf state. Qatar has no diplomatic ties with Israel, but the two nations maintain low-level trade relations. Speaking at a democracy and trade forum Monday, Livni said Israel and Arab states are mired in the same struggle with extremists like Iranian-backed Hizbullah and Hamas. "We, the moderates of the region, are all members of the same camp," Livni said. On Tuesday, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah issued a statement calling Livni's trip and her remarks "a big insult to all Arabs and Muslims." Such trips are designed to drive a wedge between Arab countries willing to make peace with Israel, and those who are not, the statement said. "The visits...are not only meant to normalize (Israel's ties with Arab countries)...but are also designed to pave the way for an Arab-Israeli alliance against other Arabs and Muslims who refuse to let the usurper entity (Israel) liquidate the Palestinian people," Fadlallah was quoted as saying. Fadlallah, 72, is the top religious authority for Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites and has followers across the Middle East. He is a strong supporter of Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions, as well as Hizbullah.