Arabs meet on Gaza in Kuwait, Qatar, rifts in the spotlight
www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-17 02:29:26   Print

    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 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.

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)
Photo Gallery>>>


    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 2007.

    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.

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.

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)
Photo Gallery>>>

    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."

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.

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)
Photo Gallery>>>

    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 Saudi Arabia.

    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 in Kuwait.

    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 accept it.

    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 it."

    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 mutual concern."

    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 it."

    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. 

Editor: Mu Xuequan
Related Stories
Home World
  Back to Top