Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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

Arab states put pressure on Israel to end siege

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 17 gennaio, 2009

Mahmoud Habboush, Matthew Bradley and James Calderwood

The National – UAE

DOHA / CAIRO // Arab states yesterday stepped up pressure on Israel to end its punishing three-week military assault in Gaza, with Qatar and Mauritania saying they would freeze ties with the Jewish state and a session of Arab League nations warning it could take Israel back to the United Nations.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, said his country would give the Israeli trade office in Doha a week to evacuate.

The moves came as Egypt continued to try to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which seized control of the strip 18 months ago from the more moderate Palestinian Authority, and Israel’s foreign minister met US officials to discuss securing smuggling tunnels in Egypt.

Egypt, which has emerged as a key mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, had said on Thursday that Israel was close to accepting a one-year truce, offered by Hamas.

But in Doha, where an emergency summit of Arab nations brought together Israel’s arch-foes Iran and Lebanon, as well as leaders from Palestinian factions opposed to the rule of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, the Hamas leader ruled out accepting any truce that did not meet three conditions.

Khaled Meshaal said Israel must first lift the blockade it had imposed on the strip since 2007, reopen both border crossings and withdraw its troops from Gaza.

In Kuwait, where foreign ministers of the Arab League were meeting ahead of an official summit, Amr Moussa, the League’s chairman, welcomed the move by Qatar and Mauritania, even as he chastised the countries for meeting outside the body’s framework.

“This is a very important step to respond to Israeli aggression,” Mr Moussa told reporters, referring to the Doha summit’s decision to suspend the Arab peace initiative.

Qatar had called a crisis meeting of the Arab League yesterday, but found it boycotted by more US-allied states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Analysts warned that the differing guest lists underscored a growing schism in the Arab world that could characterise the conflict for several years.

The foreign ministers meeting in Kuwait issued a proposal calling for an immediate halt to the conflict, and pledged US$500 million (Dh1.84bn) to help rebuild the Palestinian Territories.

“The occupation is a grave issue but underdevelopment is too,” Mr Moussa said.

The proposal would be put to Arab leaders on Monday. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi will arrive in Kuwait tomorrow, along with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister.

Meanwhile, Hamas negotiators were expected to head back to the Egyptian capital yesterday for another round of talks.

The Egyptians “told us today [yesterday] that they’ve received the Israeli response to our proposals and asked us to return to Cairo for new talks”, senior Hamas leader, Mohammed Nassr, said in Doha.

Israel pummeled the strip yesterday before dawn with more than 40 strikes, including a mosque and Hamas government buildings. Palestinian health workers said 1,143 people had been killed since Dec 27, including 600 civilians, more than half of whom were children. Five thousand have been injured. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, four of them by rocket fire, according to the military.

UN agencies have warned the besieged strip, one of the most densely populated places in the world, is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, with food and medicine in short supply and aid workers unable to distribute basic necessities.

In Israel, a spokesman for Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, said the military operation was nearing its end and agreement on a truce could come in the “next few days”.

“We hope we’re heading toward the end,” the spokesman, Mark Regev, told AFP. “There is a lot of diplomatic activity and at the same time the military pressure on Hamas continues.”

Israel has said any ceasefire must include a permanent end to Hamas’s rocket firing and the smuggling of weapons through a network of tunnels on the Egyptian border.

In Washington, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, was expected yesterday to sign a deal with Washington on measures to end the arms smuggling. Israel was expected to vote today on whether to call a unilateral ceasefire, media reports said.

The military operation, which Israel said was intended to end Hamas rocket fire into its territory, has sparked anger across the Muslim world, and appeared to harden divisions between countries supporting Hamas and those who prefer Mr Abbas, analysts said.

“You have the emergence of two blocs in the last decade. There have been pro-western states going back a long way. The new development here is the development of a bloc based on Iranian power,” said Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Three militant Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad and Hamas, attended the Doha summit, but the absence of Mr Abbas was noted.

“We would have liked that Abu Mazen would have with us today to discuss the question of his people in Gaza, but he preferred not to come,” said Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad.

Thousands yesterday attended the funeral of Said Siam, Hamas’s interior minister, the most senior Islamist leader killed since the start of Operation Cast Lead.

Mahmoud Habboush reported from Doha, Matthew Bradley from Cairo and James Calderwood from Kuwait City.

mhabboush@thenational.ae

mbradley@thenational.ae

jcalderwood@thenational.ae

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090117/FOREIGN/806917546/1011

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