Qatar calls for urgent summit to discuss Gaza

If it takes place, the summit would be the second such meeting of foreign ministers under Arab League auspices since Operation Cast Lead began.

Amr Moussa 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Amr Moussa 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Sunday he is working to organize an urgent summit of Arab foreign ministers to discuss ways to end the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. The summit could be held in Kuwait, which is hosting an Arab economic summit next week, Moussa said. Qatar called on Sunday for a ministerial meeting "as early as possible... for consultations on the steps that should be taken to face the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip," according to the Qatar News Agency. The meeting would also allow the ministers to discuss a report produced by seven of its members after they met with the US Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York last week. If it takes place, the summit would be the second such meeting of foreign ministers under Arab League auspices since Israel launched its operation against Hamas on December 27. Qatar, which does not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state but hosts an Israeli trade office, previously called for a summit of Arab leaders on the conflict in Gaza, but only some Arab League members supported the proposal, preferring to give Egypt a chance to work out a cease-fire. Moussa defended on Sunday the UN Security Council resolution that was passed on Thursday, which called for an immediate cease-fire leading to an IDF withdrawal. Moussa said the resolution was binding on all parties involved. "It is not only binding for Hamas, or for Fatah only, but binding for all the Arab states that met in Cairo and decided to go to the Security Council and adopt a resolution to stop the aggression," he said, according to Arab press reports. "And they called this resolution 'the Arab resolution,' so it concerns us all." Meanwhile, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry is denying a report that it has recalled its ambassador from Israel, saying that no decisions have been made regarding relations with Israel. Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Ali al-Ayed left to attend an ambassadors' summit in Jordan a few days before Israel launched its offensive in Gaza. But he has not returned to Israel, fueling speculation that he is being kept there due to anger about the offensive. But a Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that no decisions have been made. "The fact is that he is here on his vacation and no decisions have been taken," spokesman Nassar Habashneh said late Saturday night. "There is no change; nothing new... It's a rumor." He could not say, however, when the ambassador would return to Israel. "I think it's a first message to Israel that the Jordanian people and the Jordanian government are against the operation, that it's against the strategic interests of Jordan vis-a-vis the peace process and vis-a-vis its relations with Israel," said Samer Libdeh, an Amman-based researcher for the Center for Liberty in the Middle East. On Sunday, the kingdom's parliament debated whether Jordan should expel the Israeli ambassador and annul its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, something that would require a two-thirds majority, Libdeh said. Jordan, however, receives a large sum of US aid as a result of its peace treaty and thus would likely not favor such a move, he said. On January 4, Jordanian Prime Minister Nader al-Dahabi said that that the government retains the right to reassess its relationship with other countries, particularly with Israel. Mauritania, which was the third Arab country to open full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan, withdrew its ambassador on January 5 over the Gaza operation.