Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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

Leaders mend rifts over Gaza

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 20 gennaio, 2009

James Calderwood, Foreign Correspondent

The National-UAE

KUWAIT CITY // Pleas by several Arab countries seemed to have healed rifts created during the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The reconciliation was announced after the end of a first day of speeches at a regional economic summit in Kuwait that also saw donations of reconstruction aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.

“We have to overcome Arab political differences that led to a division in Arab ranks which can be exploited by those who want to achieve their regional ambitions,” said King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who at the summit’s opening session announced the donation of US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) to a fund for the rebuilding of Gaza. When the fund was announced on Saturday, organisers aimed to collect $2bn.

Kuwait announced a donation of $34 million to cover emergency needs of the UN relief agency in Gaza.

The UAE delegation at the summit was led by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE.

The reconciliation between Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Syria came about after a meeting of the leaders of the four states, plus Kuwait, which is hosting the two-day Arab Economic and Social Development summit in Kuwait City.

The Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al Thani, who announced the rapprochement, gave no further details of the deal.

The split was highlighted after Qatar hosted an Arab summit on Friday from which the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia stayed away. The efforts to heal the rift were launched by Kuwait with the help of other Gulf countries, a Kuwaiti source said.

King Abdullah was equally clear on the issue of Palestinian unity. “Their dispute is more threatening to their cause than the Israeli invasion,” he said. King Abdullah had equally strong words for Israel: “The option between war and peace will not continue to be available at all times,” meaning that a 2002 offer from Arab states to swap peace for lands occupied by Israel in 1967 – the Arab initiative – could be re-examined. He called the Israelis “criminal hoodlums whose hearts know no mercy … murderers”.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, also attended the session and urged the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to unite under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

“We cannot rebuild Gaza without Palestinian unity,” he said yesterday; the Palestinians must face this challenge themselves.

In an interview with The National from the Hamas headquarters in exile in Damascus, a spokesman for the group said it was willing to work with its rival, the Fatah faction led by Mr Abbas, to secure international funding for rebuilding Gaza. But Hamas remains wary that international aid will come with strings attached designed to bypass it and prop up Fatah.

“We will not allow money to be given to Mahmoud Abbas so that he can then control Gaza,” Talal Nassar, the spokesman, said. “We will establish joint committees between Hamas and Fatah to rebuild. The legitimate elected authority in Gaza remains under Ismail Haniyeh”, the Hamas leader in Gaza.

Reconstruction assistance would also come from Syria and Iran, key supporters of Hamas, Mr Nassar said. Bashar al Assad, the Syrian president, said the resistance in Gaza was not terrorism, and there would be no end to violence until Israeli forces leave the territory. Mr Assad added that economic and political relations between Arab countries were inseparable.

The Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, said his country supported the Gaza Strip from the first day of the invasion by working towards Palestinian reconciliation and delivering thousands of tonnes of aid. He said the tragedy had exposed the fact that Arab relations are “not in good shape”.

Mr Mubarak said: “Egypt will always open its arms” to help the Palestinians reconcile.
Egypt had been criticised for not opening the Rafah border crossing with Gaza and even collusion with Israel before it launched its attack. Egypt, which tried to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel during the conflict, has said it would only open the border crossing if the Palestinian Authority is in charge of the Strip.

Mr Abbas called for reconciliation within the ranks through a national unity government that would hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections, Agence France-Presse reported.

“I want to make it clear that a solution to the Arab-Israeli problem … requires a reform in Arab-Arab relations,” said the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. On Sunday, Mr Moussa said there is “weakness, political turmoil and chaos” in the Arab world.

“The Arab ship is on the brink of sinking because of the many holes it now has,” Mr Moussa warned. To fix this situation, Arabs must increase economic co-operation, build a pan-Arab transport infrastructure and launch a customs union in 2015 to arrive at the Arab Common Market.

Arab divisions became apparent when Qatar decided to hold a separate summit last week to focus on Gaza. The meeting was attended by radical Middle East leaders including the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas.

But several Arab countries stayed away, including US allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was also absent.

jcalderwood@thenational.ae

http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090120/FOREIGN/21267339/1002

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