Qatar leader: Conflict gives chance for ME peace

The emir of Qatar said Monday that Israeli-Hizbullah conflict had provided "greater opportunity" for Mideast peace, and called on the Jewish state to implement the latest UN Security Council cease-fire requirements. In the first visit to Lebanon by any head of state since the conflict began, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani said the 34-day war proved that Israel could not intimidate the Arabs. "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 faster we move toward peace, the better it is for the region," he said. "We always seek peace in the region." 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 Israeli implements the latest Security Council resolution. This is what we ask for." Sheik Hamad rejected the Israeli contention that the blockade was to prevent Hizbullah 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."