Arab world criticizes Operation Pillar of Defense

Liberman accuses PA president of "diplomatic terrorism"; Abbas calls on Arab League chief to visit Gaza after Egyptian PM.

November 16, 2012 21:59
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman [file]

Foreign Minsiter Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday denounced Israel's military operations in Gaza and asked Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby to visit the Strip in the coming days, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported.

Abbas asked Elaraby to visit Gaza as head of a delegation comprising Arab foreign ministers, MENA said.

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Abbas' call followed Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's visit to Gaza on Friday, where he denounced Israel's attacks on the Strip as aggression and called on the international community to stop the operation.

In his comments, the PA president also accused Israel of launching the Gaza operation in order to sabotage his planned bid to upgrade the Palestinians' statehood status in the United Nations.

Abbas concluded by calling for unity with rival Hamas, which controls the Strip. "Undoubtedly we consider that this aggression is against us, the Palestinian people," he said.

In response, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Abbas, accusing the Palestinian president of engaging in "diplomatic terrorism." During his interview with Channel 2, Liberman also accused Arab League states of blaming Israel in order to divert attention from their failings in the Arab Spring.

The calls for an end to the violence were not limited to the Arab world, however. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on both Israel and Hamas to "end this dangerous escalation."

"The Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint."

Nesirky added that Ban "plans to visit the region shortly." UN diplomats have said that Ban will visit Israel and Egypt next week.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also came out against Israel on Friday, decrying its air strikes on Gaza as a pre-election stunt and said he would discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo this weekend.

Erdogan said he would speak by phone with US President Barack Obama later on Friday and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion.

The United States says it has asked Turkey and Egypt to encourage the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza to cease rocket fire into Israel, but Erdogan laid the blame for the deepening crisis firmly on the Jewish state.

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