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.
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
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
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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