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Doha Summit 1-16-09 by Xinhau-LiZhipingJanuary 17, 2009

By Rady Ananda

The Israel cabinet will vote tonight whether to cease fire in Gaza, but Hamas will not abide a truce as long as Israel troops remain in Gaza, according to George Rishmawi, of Palestinian-based International Middle East Media Center.  For a truce to ensue, Israel demands a cessation of rocket fire from Gaza and international aid to block weapons from being smuggled into Gaza.  Arab blocks met separately to discuss actions against Israel.

Yesterday concluded a two-day emergency summit in Doha, Qatar of part of the Arab League to consider the financial outlays needed to reconstruct Palestine.  Unable to achieve a quorum of 15 member states (of 22), half the AL nonetheless issued a statement calling for all members to sever relations with Israel. This follows Venezuela and Bolivia which already severed ties with Israel as a result of the current offense in Gaza. 

Nations represented at the Doha, Qatar summit include Algeria, Comoros, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Mauritania, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Senegal. The presence of Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade is seen as key to forging consensus, given that Senegal presides over the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Noticeably absent from the Doha summit were Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  Instead, they met on Friday with Arab leaders in Kuwait to finalize the agenda for a long-planned first-ever summit on economic, social and development issues in the Arab world, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of next week. 

Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, admitted on Friday that Arab nation reactions to the war on Gaza was “in a very big chaos,” according to the AFP.

Kuwaiti Information Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah said on Thursday “The Arab leaders are unanimous on the importance of putting an end to the tragedy unfolding in Gaza, but they differ on the means of achieving it,” according to China’s xinhuanet.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been strongly critical of Hamas ever since it seized control of Gaza in June 2007.  Arab leaders acknowledged that the Gaza crisis takes precedence by modifying next week’s agenda.  Ministers also discussed “steps that should be taken after Israel rejected UN Security Council Resolution 1860,” that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the AFP reported. One suggestion was to ask the UN to issue another resolution.  Prince Saud also offered to set up an Arab fund to pay for Gaza’s reconstruction. 

Bolivia plans to bring genocide charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court next week.  Israel nor the US are signatories to the Rome Statute creating the Hague-based court in 2000 to investigate and prosecute war crimes.