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In Doha, Graham says Qatar is ‘more the solution than the problem,’ despite criticism

Sen. Lindsey Graham highlights normalization and two-state solution in address to Doha Forum

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) addresses the Doha Forum, Dec. 10, 2023

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) addresses the Doha Forum, Dec. 10, 2023

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) praised Qatar and pledged to continue to push for normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia and for a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians, in an address to the Doha Forum on Sunday.

In his opening remarks to the conference, ahead of a conversation with former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, Graham heaped praise on the host country before delivering lengthy comments about the Israel-Hamas war. 

“I want to thank you [Qatar] for what you have done for my country,” he said. “You get some criticism, and Hamas is here — but I know why they’re here, they’re here so they can be talked to. And you do things for the world that sometimes is not so popular, but I just want to let you know that I appreciate what you do, I love coming here and you’re more the solution than the problem.”

Graham described the morning session of the conference in its approach to the Israel-Hamas war as “the most one-sided view of a situation I have ever seen,” before delivering his response to it.

“Congress would like to see this war over sooner rather than later,” Graham said. “Congress would like to lessen the number of civilian casualties to the extent possible but Congress will stand with Israel until they do what they need to do. The last time a bunch of people tried to kill all the Jews 80 years ago there was no Israel, so the one thing I can tell you, if it’s your goal to kill all the Jews you’re gonna have one hell of a fight on your hands and the United States of America is going to stand with Israel, without animosity toward the Palestinians.”

Addressing the “Palestinian problem,” Graham said, “The first thing we need to do is find a new PA (Palestinian Authority). I wouldn’t give 15 cents to this trow. So when this is over, I hope we can find new people to offer new governance that’s less corrupt, to give the Palestinian people something to live for. When this is over I assure you Hamas will not be able to destroy Israel ever again… and when this is over they’ll no longer be able to oppress the Palestinian people…I don’t know how long it will take but the ultimate destruction of Hamas will come from the Palestinian people.”

Turning to the Islamic republic, Graham described Iran as the “root of most of the problems in the region.”

Suggesting that Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel was inspired, at least in part, by the “desire of Iran to make sure Saudi Arabia never reconcile with Israel,” Graham asserted that “without Iran, there is no Hamas.”

“What I think happened, Morgan, this attack, at least in part, was designed to make sure that the big prize, Saudi Arabia, would never be able to recognize Israel and vice versa,” Graham continued.
“The biggest fear of the Ayatollah [Ali Khameini] is that the Arab world in conjunction with Israel marches toward the light away from the darkness. They hate that idea that everybody in this room can find a way to work with Israel and live with Israel, where everybody makes money and can live in peace.”

“So I believe we cannot let Iran win. And for Iran to lose would be the following: We not give up on the efforts to reconcile Saudi Arabia with Israel, that we not give up on a new way of doing business with the Palestinians after this war is over,” Graham said. 

Graham, who will soon travel to Israel, said, “Here’s what I’m going to tell my Israeli friends: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, none of these Arab countries can help you unless you make a commitment for a two-state solution. They just can’t do it. Now, whether you can do it I’ll leave that up to you, whether it’s a good idea for Israel I’ll leave that up to you but I do know this to my Arab friends, to the GCC friends, I know you cannot leave the Palestinians hanging. To my friends in Israel, the best thing you can do to beat Iran is to give the Palestinians a life where they’re not dependent upon terrorist organizations, that they can live and work and be prosperous.”

Graham praised President Joe Biden for the U.S. veto of a U.N. cease-fire resolution, and pledged 

“to help President Biden secure the votes in the United States Senate to make it possible for Saudi Arabia to have a defense agreement with us, which would then make it possible for Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel.”  

“Before the world I pledge my support, to help reconstruct a new Palestine but none of this is possible until you have a less corrupt younger Palestinian Authority, replacing the one we have. And Hamas can no longer wreak havoc on Israel or their own people.”

On the sidelines of the conference, Graham met with the emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

During the conference, Al Thani presented the annual Doha Forum Award to UNRWA, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which has long come under fire from pro-Israel groups for bias against Israel and more recently for its role in the Israel-Hamas war.

On Friday, Graham met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Washington, D.C. and they discussed the situation in Gaza, in a meeting also attended by Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Princess Reema bint Bandar.

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