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Africa
Mauritania mulls ending Israel ties
Attack on Israeli embassy and support for Palestinians forces president to review.
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2008 16:20 GMT
Abdallahi has been under domestic pressure recently to cut ties with Israel [GALLO/GETTY]
Mauritania, one of three Arab League countries with diplomatic relations with Israel, has said it will review its relations with the Jewish state.

President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has come under mounting domestic political pressure to sever ties, following a recent gun attack and protests in support of the Palestinian people.
Mauritania followed Egypt and Jordan in establishing full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1999.

Full recognition of Israel, established by Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, president of Mauritania from 1984 to 2005, continued despite a peaceful coup in 2005 and a change of government.
Embassy attack

A gun attack on the Israeli embassy in Mauritania on January 31 left one French woman and two French-Mauritanians injured. No Israelis were hurt in the incident.
 
The attack, claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, heightened fears of increased activity by al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in the North-West African country and spurred protests against the government's relations with Israel.

Mohamed Holam Weld Haj, head of the society of solidarity of the Palestinian people, said: "These relations are totally rejected and denounced by all Mauritanian parties and people.
 
"The political leadership has been positive towards this rejection. The attack has been used to turn the Israelis into a victim."

Mahmoud Abbas, the the Palestinian president, who visited Mauritania in March, called on Arab states not to have full ties with Israel before an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories at an Arab League summit in Damascus last month.

But he stopped short of endorsing the severing of ties.

"Mauritania's decision to undertake diplomatic relations with Israel is a sovereign matter," he said.

"It is not for us to dictate its position on that subject," he said following a meeting with the president.

'Total rejection'

Demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people, and against Israeli attacks on Gaza, the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the failure of final status talks, have placed more pressure on Abdallahi to officially cut ties.

Alkhalil Weld Al Tayeb, a member of Mauritanian parliament, said: "The regime has inherited diplomatic relations [with Israel] which are totally rejected by all Mauritanian people and parties.

"In his electoral campaign, the president pledged to us that this issue would be under re-consideration."

Zeinab bint Erebih, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Mauritania, said that the people feel helpless and they have no other means to express this rejection other than by holding demonstrations.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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