by Zhu Lei, Lin liping
KUWAIT CITY, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Arab foreign
ministers gathered in Kuwait on Friday for an emergency meeting on Gaza as Qatar
pressed forward with its initiative hosting an urgent summit on Gaza despite a
low turnout of Arab leaders.
An official source involved in the Kuwait meeting told Kuwait's state news agency KUNA that the foreign ministers consulted on the steps that should be carried out after Israel's refusal to abide by UN Security Council resolution 1860.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa (R) and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud bin al-Faisal attend a press conference after the meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on Jan. 16, 2009. Arab foreign ministers held an emergency meeting here on Friday, with the situation in the Gaza Strip under unprecedented Israeli attacks topping the agenda. (Xinhua/Noufal Ibrahim)
The source revealed that the Arab ministers also
mulled a proposal to establish an Arab fund for the reconstruction of Gaza, said
the source who did not give his name.
The emergency meeting in Kuwait, the second one in
half a month, was called upon by Qatar to address the Gaza offensive which
Israel said was aimed at retaliating rocket attacks by the Islamist militant
group Hamas which has been ruling the impoverished coastal enclave since June
Also in the day, Qatar, the only Gulf Arab state with ties to Israel, hastily hosted an emergency summit as scheduled though it did not secure the quorum of two thirds of Arab League (AL) members required for a formal Arab summit.
The emergency Arab summit is held in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 16, 2009. The summit on Friday was attended by about 12 to 13 Arab leaders despite it did not reach the quorum of two thirds of the 22-member Arab League to hold such a summit. (Xinhua/Li Zhiping)
On Thursday, Saudi king even assembled leaders of six
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for an emergency summit in Riyadh in a
move seen to pre-empt Qatar's bid, but in vain.
The simultaneously-staged Arab meetings pushed the
deep rifts among Arab states over how to address the Gaza crisis to be in the
spotlight. They have been even at odds over the time and place to hold an
emergency summit on Gaza.
Minutes before entering the foreign ministers meeting in Kuwait, AL Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters that "The situation in Arab countries is quite chaotic. It is regrettable and harmful."
Damascus-based Hamas exile top leader Khaled Meshaal (R) attends an emergency Arab summit in Doha Jan. 16, 2009. Meshaal vowed on Friday that his movement would not accept Israel's conditions for a ceasefire in Gaza.(Xinhua/Li Zhen)
Qatar, active in diplomacy in recent years, called on
Monday for an extraordinary summit in a third such plea since Israel's offensive
on Gaza which has killed more than 1,133 Palestinians and wounded 5,000 others
since its launch on Dec. 27.
The tiny Gulf Arab state has spearheaded in calling
on AL members to convene an emergency Arab summit on Gaza in its capital Doha,
but its proposal met strong resistance from regional heavyweights Egypt and
The two countries, close allies in the Middle East
with the United States, have declared their preference to discuss the Gaza
situation during the long-planned Arab economic summit scheduled for Jan. 19-20
Egypt has insisted on broking a ceasefire deal
between Hamas and Israel, with President Hosni Mubarak presenting a three-point
proposal, which calls for an immediate ceasefire for a limited period to allow
humanitarian aid to reach Gaza and give Egypt time to continue its efforts to
help reach a lasting truce.
Egypt would invite both Israel and the Palestinians
for negotiation and help resume the inter-Palestinian reconciliation talks,
according to the proposal.
So far, Hamas and Israel have both responded
positively to the Egyptian proposal, but none of them officially announced to
Arab countries like Qatar and Syria seem to adopt a
harder line towards the Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
Qatar's al-Jazeera TV channel said Qatar and
Mauritania have decided to cut their ties with Israel. Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad urged at the emergency summit that Arab nations should sever ties with
the Jewish state.
The leaders of Algeria, Comoros, Lebanon, Mauritania,
Sudan and Syria showed up at the Doha summit, while Djibouti, Iraq and Libya
sent senior officials, according to Qatar's official news agency.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem, who was in Doha
for the summit, said "This meeting is the fruit of Qatari, Arab, Syrian and
Islamic determination ... in defiance of all the pressures exercised to prevent
Commenting on the parallel Doha summit, Egyptian
Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Abul Gheit who attended the Kuwait meeting said that
"every Arab country has the right to call for any meeting to discuss issues of
Other Arab ministers have also indicated the existing
inter-Arab difference on addressing the Gaza crisis.
Kuwaiti Information Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah
said on Thursday "The Arab leaders are unanimous on the importance of putting an
end to the tragedy unfolding in Gaza, but they differ on the means of achieving
Also on Thursday, Kuwait's Undersecretary at the
Foreign Ministry Khaled Al-Jarallah said, "It is hard to say that Arabs are
divided on the issue of Gaza but the fact is that there are several efforts
aimed at halting the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza," referring to the
numerous Arab meetings on the issue of Gaza.