Arabs undecided over Gaza summit

Leaders divided over date and venue of Arab summit to discuss the war on Gaza.

    The Saudi move came a day after Qatar pushed ahead with its plans for an Arab summit in Doha [AFP]

    The Arab League later said there was no quorum to convene a summit in Qatar.


    "Thirteen countries have given their acceptance, therefore the quorum has not been met yet," Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, told reporters in Kuwait on Wednesday.

    Qatar has said it would attend the Kuwait summit at the highest level, regardless of whether a special meeting on Gaza is held in Doha or not.

    Egyptian plan

    Riyadh's call for the meeting of the GCC - a regional bloc involving the six Arab states of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - comes amid reports that Gaza's ruling faction Hamas has agreed to an Egypt-mediated ceasefire plan which could make an Arab League summit unnecessary.

    Hamas said on Wednesday it had given Egypt its views on an Egyptian ceasefire plan.

    "The movement has presented a detailed vision to the Egyptian leadership ... There is no disagreement with the Egyptian leadership. The issue is differences over how to deal with the Zionist enemy (Israel) through the clauses of this initiative," Salah al-Bardawil, a Hamas official said.

    Bardawil, speaking at a news conference in Cairo, declined to go into details of Hamas's response to the plan, which could end 20 days of Israel’s war on Gaza.

    Ahmed Abul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, said earlier that Hamas had told Egypt its position on the truce proposal, which Egypt would give to Amos Gilad, an Israeli envoy, who is due in Cairo on Thursday.

    "We will tell the Israelis what we have obtained from our brothers Hamas," Abul Gheit said.

    "There are Hamas positions that we will discuss with the Israelis in the context of all the elements of [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak's initiative. We hope that things will move forwards but we will not enter into details."

    Two members of Hamas' exiled political leadership left Cairo for Damascus on Wednesday after discussions with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Gaza-based Hamas leaders.

    Conditional approval

    Abul Gheit said that Mubarak's plan, launched on January 6, calls for an "immediate ceasefire and acceptance of withdrawal" of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.

    He said that the opening of crossing points into the territory requires talks on "who must be on the crossing points and if the presence of other parties is required".

    Israel has made an end to its offensive conditional on a halt to Gaza rocket fire against southern Israel and creating an effective mechanism to halt smuggling into the territory from Egypt.

    Hamas insists on an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, in effect since the group seized the territory in June 2007, and an opening up of crossing points to normal traffic.

    Currently, Egypt's Rafah crossing with Gaza, the only one that bypasses Israel, can only be opened if European Union monitors and forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas are present.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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