Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Arabs Squabble as Gaza Burns

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 14 gennaio, 2009

SANA ABDALLAH (Middle East Times)

AMMAN — Nineteen days into a devastating Israeli onslaught of the Gaza Strip, which has killed almost 1,000 Palestinians and sparked angry protests across the region, Arab regimes continued to squabble over whether this war deserves an extraordinary Arab summit to discuss how to stop the bloodshed.

The diplomatic row between the so-called “moderate” and “resistance” states of the 22-member Arab League is intensifying with the escalation of an Israeli air and ground assault on the Hamas-controlled Palestinian strip, the worst military attack on Gaza since the 1967 Middle East war.

The tiny gas-rich Gulf state of Qatar, hardly a radical regime that hosts the U.S. Military Central Command, took the lead in seeking an emergency summit and, in its third call, said the meeting would be held in Doha on Friday.

The move came despite opposition from powerful Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which insist that a summit without a clear agenda and consensus on what to do would not help bring about an end to the conflict in Gaza.

Reports from Doha said on Wednesday that 16 countries have accepted to attend the summit in the Qatari capital on Friday, after the United Arab Emirates’ agreement to participate had completed the needed two-thirds quorum to convene. Iraq became the 16th country to say it would attend, according to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Arabic news channel. But the report was not confirmed in Baghdad.

However, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said the quorum was still not met. “There are only 14 member countries” who have accepted Qatar’s summit call, he said, adding that a final decision on whether it will convene will be taken in the coming hours.

In addition to the host country, the UAE, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Djibouti, Somalia, the Comoros, Oman and the Palestinian Authority have agreed to take part in the high-level meeting, according to the Cairo-based Arab League.

In a meeting in Riyadh Tuesday, visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah made it abundantly clear they will not only stay away from the Doha summit, but did not support the idea at all.

For Cairo and Riyadh, close U.S. allies, holding high-level talks on Gaza on the margins of the ordinary Arab economic summit in Kuwait on Jan. 19 and 20 is enough and another summit was not necessary.

Not so, said Qatar, whose ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani had said the “war crimes” that Israel is committing against the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza require an Arab summit for collective action to pressure Israel to stop the war.

Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told reporters Wednesday his country will take part in the Kuwait meeting and summit, “but the events in Gaza call for a separate summit, and the world should know that the meeting is not merely on the margins of a summit.”

The prime minister diplomatically downplayed the divisions over the issue, saying they were just “differences of opinion.” But in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Monday, he criticized Arab countries acting “on the orders of the West,” in obvious reference to Cairo and Riyadh.

Arab diplomats said that Qatar shelved its initial call for an emergency summit after the Arab foreign ministers, who asked to be given a chance to push for an international resolution to halt the Israeli war, failed to grab a viable ceasefire decision at the U.N. Security Council.

Although Security Council Resolution 1860 was adopted, it apparently lacked a mechanism for implementation and was thus ignored by both Israel and Hamas, prompting Qatar to seek a summit to exclusively deal with the Gaza war, while Egypt unilaterally proposed a cease-fire plan without consulting with the rest of the Arabs.

Arab commentators say the absence of Egypt and Saudi Arabia from the Doha summit, if it is held, will weaken whatever decisions that may be taken at this meeting.

Yet, their outright rejection of it and trying to push the Egyptian cease-fire plan would not only deepen the rift between Arab states, but also between these regimes and the angry anti-Israeli street and opposition groups, who have also aimed their anger at the Arab leaders for failing to take collective political action in support of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The Egyptian plan, which Cairo is still negotiating with Hamas and Israel, has been widely criticized as Palestinian and Arab “surrender” to Israel, while many critics believe that convening the Doha summit might serve Palestinian interests more than the Egyptian-Saudi “plot to liquidate Hamas and the resistance.”

These critics believe the mere fact that a summit for Gaza will be held, even if it fails to come out with clear decisions for political action, would send a message to Gaza’s Palestinians that they deserve the attention of the Arab leaders, and complies with the calls of the masses who have been in the streets of Arab capitals demanding strong positions against the Israeli assault.




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