King Abdullah calls emergency GCC summit



The call came a day after Saudi Arabia and Egypt said they preferred consultation on Gaza on the sidelines of the Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit in Kuwait next week, rather than holding an emergency Arab summit.

The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

The outcome of the summit will be keenly awaited as more than 1,000 people, mostly women and children, have died and nearly 5,000 injured in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s 19-day bombardment from land, sea and air.

King Abdullah had supported the Egyptian truce initiative during his talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “The two leaders agreed that there must be immediate cease-fire and there must be complete implementation of the Egyptian initiative,” said a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

During the last Cabinet meeting, King Abdullah said Saudi Arabia would stand by its Palestinian brethren at all levels to protect their entity and rights. The Cabinet meeting, which described Israel’s war on Gaza as genocide, expressed its deep concern over the continuing Israeli atrocities on unarmed civilians.

In Cairo, Egypt and Hamas were negotiating a proposal for a 10-day cease-fire. Egyptian and Palestinian officials said they hoped to seal Hamas’ agreement on a temporary halt in fighting, which would be presented to Israel for approval.

Key uncertainties remained for a longer-term deal under which Gaza’s borders would be opened and Israeli troops would withdraw. The officials provided details of the deal on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the Egypt-Hamas talks.

But Egyptian officials also expressed optimism that momentum toward a deal was growing.

“We’re working with Hamas and we’re working with the Israeli side. We hope to reach an outcome soon,” Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, told the BBC.

A Hamas spokesman said he also believed an agreement was possible. “There is good progress in Egypt. We hope that now Egypt will contact Israel and talk about all issues,” Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas adviser, told the BBC.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said details on the proposed cease-fire would be kept “under a lid of secrecy” until all parties agreed but said issues included an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, opening crossings into the blockaded territory and some kind of international monitors.

Aboul Gheit said Mubarak’s plan, initiated on Jan. 6, calls for an “immediate cease-fire and acceptance of withdrawal” of Israeli military from the Gaza Strip. He said the opening of crossing points into the besieged territory requires talks on “who must be on the crossing points and if the presence of other parties is required … we will discuss this.”



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