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Qatar Cancels Plan To Open Trade Office In Israel

July 12, 1996

DOHA, Qatar (AP) _ Qatar has canceled plans to open a trade office in Israel, a sign that Arab states are reconsidering forging economic ties with Israel under its new hard-line prime minister.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, noted the cancellation in an interview published Friday in the newspaper Al-Watan. He called on Israel to reconsider its new stance toward the peace process.

Newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he does not believe his country should negotiate with the Arabs based on a principle of exchanging land for peace _ a bulwark of the peace process until now.

Qatar has conducted an increasingly independent foreign policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict, much to the disapproval of some of its partners in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

Last year, Qatar and Oman broke away from their other Arab partners by agreeing to exchange trade missions with Israel, but stopping short of full diplomatic ties.

Last month, Arab leaders meeting in Cairo said Israel risked setting back the peace process and its budding economic ties with the Arab world if it changed the ground rules for negotiations.

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