Doha emergency summit deepens Arab differences over Gaza issue 2009-01-17 08:14:10   Print

Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
    DOHA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- About 12 to 13 Arab leaders opened an emergency summit on Friday afternoon as scheduled in the Qatari capital Doha, despite it did not reach the quorum of two thirds of the 22-member Arab League to hold such a summit with regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia refusing to attend.

    A joint communique issued at the end of the summit meeting, hastily proposed by Qatar on Monday, called on all Arab countries to stop all peace negotiations and cut ties with Israel in response to the latter's ongoing offensive against the Gaza Strip.

    "We called on all Arab countries to stop the Arab Peace Initiative (with Israel) launched in 2002," the communique said, adding that the Arabs should freeze ties with the Jewish country.

    It also lashed out at the continuation of the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave despite UN Resolution 1860 and mounting international pressures, vowing to hold those responsible for war crimes under international law.

    "Israel must cease its assault on Gaza and leave unconditionally," it said, emphasizing that all the border crossings in Gaza should be opened to facilitate the flows of food, medical and humanitarian aids.

    Moreover, the communique also recommend establishing an international fund for Gaza's reconstruction, adding the Arabs and peace-loving countries in the world should provide relief for the war-torn territory.

    Since Israel launched its military operation in Gaza on Dec. 27,2008, more than 1,148 Palestinians have been killed and some 5,200others wounded, according to Gaza emergency chief Mo'aweya Hassanein.

    Speaking at the Doha summit meeting, Damascus-based Hamas exile top leader Khaled Meshaal vowed that his movement would not accept Israels conditions for a ceasefire in Gaza.

    Meshaal, representing the Palestinian side to attend the meeting, said that the Israeli aggression will be destroyed, reiterating Hamas' stance to reject Israel's terms for a Gaza ceasefire.

    On behalf of the whole Palestinian people, Meshaal extended appreciation to the people in Gaza who resist the aggression, vowing that it is unacceptable for Gaza to be sieged and blockaded.

    He also urged the emir of Qatar to set up a fund to help the Palestinians in Gaza.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also spoke at the meeting, urging that Arab nations should cut ties with Israel which has been pounding the Palestinian enclave of Gaza since Dec. 27.

    The Arab-Israel peace initiative is "dead", Assad told the meeting, calling for the Arabs to cease "all direct and indirect ties" with the Jewish country.

    As for Syria, Assad said his country will kill the long-stalled indirect talks over the disputed Golan Heights with Israel under the auspices of Turkey.

    In May, Syria and Israel, technically still at war since the first Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948, began Turkish-mediated indirect talks after direct negotiations halted nine years ago over the thorny Golan Heights issue.

    Following four rounds of negotiations, the process has been on hold since outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced in July he would step down over corruption allegations.

    Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also showing up at the meeting which aims to form a united Arab stance toward ongoing Israel offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

    The Doha summit came as Arab foreign ministers also kicked off an emergency meeting in Kuwait on Friday to address the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, amid deep rifts in the Arab world.

    Minutes before entering the meeting in Kuwait, Arab League (AL)Secretary General Amr Moussa told reporters that "the situation in Arab countries is quite chaotic. It is regrettable and harmful."

    Arab states have been at odds over the time and place to hold an emergency summit on Gaza which has been under intensive Israeli onslaught for the past 20 days.

    Qatar has spearheaded in calling on the 22-member Cairo-based AL to convene an emergency Arab summit on Gaza in its capital Doha, but the proposal of the tiny Gulf Arab state met strong resistance from regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    The two countries, close allies in the region with the United States, have declared their preference to discuss the Gaza situation when they meet for the long-planned Arab economic summit scheduled for Jan. 19-20 in Kuwait.

    Though Saudi king invited leaders of six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to attend an emergency summit in Riyadh on Thursday in a bid to adopt a unified stance on rendering support to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, oil-rich Qatar insisted on going ahead with its initiative on the Doha summit.

    The AL chief criticized that Doha has failed to secure the quorum of 15 required for a formal Arab summit.

    Later on Friday at a press conference after attending the one-day emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Kuwait, Moussa highlighted the importance of an upcoming Kuwait summit, while conceding the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip shadows the first-ever Arab economic gathering.

    He told the reporter that the Kuwait summit is highly important as it is the first devoted to economic, social and development issues in the Arab world and has been in preparation for over one year.

    "The Gaza crisis shadows the summit, but the (Kuwait) summit is very important. We want to make a number of achievements," Moussa said.

    For the Arabs, Gaza is a major concern, but underdevelopment is also important, said Moussa, adding that "it is significant to create news approaches for common action to fulfill the needs of Arab citizens. There are a lot of projects underway."

    Friday's foreign ministers meeting lasted as long as nine hours, as the ministers from 22 AL members also tackled the situation in the Gaza Strip and studied the agenda of the upcoming Arab economic summit.


Editor: An
Related Stories
Home World
  Back to Top