Friday, January 16, 2009
14:36 Mecca time, 11:36 GMT      
News Middle East
Emergency talks held on Gaza crisis
Livni was to arrive in Washington DC to discuss a deal to stop weapons reaching 
the Gaza Strip [AFP]

Diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the war on Gaza have intensified with 
meetings being held in Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, is also visiting the West Bank and Tzipi 
Livni, Israel's foreign minister, is flying to the US for talks.

Ban offered some hope in a news conference with Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian 
prime minister, in the West Bank, on Friday saying that an agreement on a 
ceasefire was "very close".

However, Friday's emergency Arab summit in Doha, the Qatari capital, has 
highlighted the divisions within the Arab world, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia 
declining to attend, preferring instead to attend a meeting of foreign 
ministers in Kuwait.

Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, admitted on Friday that the 
Arab nation's reaction to the war on Gaza was "in a very big chaos".

The Palestinian political factions Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front 
for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) are at the Doha summit.

The meeting aims to establish an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a proposed 
reconstruction fund for the territory.

By Friday morning 1,133 Palestinians had been killed since Israel launched its 
offensive on December 27.

Two camps

Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Doha, said the delegates in 
Qatar recognise the legitimacy of the Gazan factions, whereas Egypt, Saudi 
Arabia and Western nations have sidelined them from a ceasefire talks.


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"You have two camps: The so-called moderate Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, 
Egypt, Jordan, some Gulf monarchies like the UAE, and those who are trying to 
say that we totally disagree with the US attempt to implement a new Middle 

Ahelbarra said the former is uncomfortable with Hamas's ties with Iran and 
suspects that the Iranian leadership is using some Arab countries to further 
its influence in the region.

He said that the latter group believes it has the duty to convey the anti-war 
feeling of the Arab street and wants to condemn Israel's actions.

Talks are continuing in Cairo over an Egypt-sponsored truce, with Amos Gilad, 
the Israeli chief negotiator, reportedly telling Egyptian officials that Israel 
wants an open-ended ceasefire.

Israel demands that rocket fire from Gaza ceases and an international force 
preventing weapons from being smuggled into Gaza is established for any deal to 
be signed.

Livni, due to arrive in Washington DC on Friday, will meet Condoleezza Rice, 
the outgoing US secretary of state, to discuss a potential US role in stopping 
weapons smuggling.

Hamas delegates have also been in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, reportedly 
offering a year-long, renewable ceasefire.

However, this offer is also subject to conditions: an immediate halt to 
Israel's offensive, a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, the 
re-opening of all crossing points into Gaza, and a lifting of the economic 

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, on the Gaza-Israeli border, said: "There is 
certainly momentum for a ceasefire.

"[But] as we get closer to an agreement, both sides are focusing on those 
little details that could make or break an agreement."
 Source:     Al Jazeera and agencies

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