Saudi FM, Arab League chief blame IDF op on Palestinian rift

"This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership and one voice," says Faisal.

saudi fm arab league chief 248.88 (photo credit: )
saudi fm arab league chief 248.88
(photo credit: )
In an apparent message to Hamas, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister and the Arab League chief on Wednesday blamed the divisions between Fatah and Hamas for Israel's attacks in Gaza, and urged them to unite to help end the fighting at an urgent Arab League meeting. "This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership and one voice," Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said, at the opening of the league meeting in Cairo. The Arab foreign ministers decided to ask the UN Security Council to pass a binding resolution that would immediately "end the aggression" and open the crossings into Gaza. They also called on the Palestinian factions to unite. The ministers did not call a summit of Arab leaders, but said that they could still host one in the future if needed. They also reviewed ideas for a cease-fire and to alleviate humanitarian conditions in the Strip. An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that he was pleased with the league's resolution, nothing that it "was expected and that there were no surprises." The special session, which was closed to the media and lasted several hours, reflected differences in opinion between Western-backed Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and their rivals on the approach to resolving the Gaza conflict. Pro-US Arab countries - Egypt, in particular - have come under heavy criticism in widespread street protests, as well as from Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah, for allegedly not doing enough to stop Israel or help Gazans. Officials and pro-government media in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have responded by blaming Hamas for provoking Israel and accusing the Islamist group of being a proxy promoting the power of regional rival Iran. Faisal's words, aimed at his Palestinian brothers, were unusually harsh for an Arab summit and are believed to be targeted at Hamas, which recently rejected Egypt's attempts to facilitate reconciliation talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Echoing sentiments expressed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the day before, Faisal charged that the division between the Fatah-dominated PA and Hamas opened the door for Israel to attack. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have both criticized Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and have called on the two factions to unite, in part to advance efforts toward the creation of a Palestinian state. Arab League chief Amr Moussa also criticized Palestinian divisions, saying that what is happening in Gaza "is the result of the weakness of the Arab position and divisions among the Palestinian ranks, which has led to contempt for them." Amr Moussa called on the Palestinian leadership "to rise to the level of events and form one front vis a vis their enemies on the basis of strength and unity." He also called on Abbas "to act immediately to stop the aggression and to turn to the Security Council and demand a halt to the aggression." AP contributed to this report.