Arabs Hold Emergency Session on Gaza

Arab foreign ministers from 11 countries were to meet at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo Wednesday to call on Arab governments and civil society to officially take a stance against the Israeli blockade and to seek reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.

"Arab foreign ministers must find tangible solutions to the issues facing Palestine in terms of internal conflict and the Israeli siege," Ambassador Hisham Yusef, director of the office of the secretary general of the Arab League, told AlArabiya.net

"Without internal reconciliation, we cannot move forward with peace talks," he added.

The conference is expected to seek tangible solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has reached its lowest point since the Israeli blockade began in early November.

Arab states have said that penetrating the Israeli blockade is one possibility on the table, a spokesperson from the Arab League press office told AlArabiya.net. Breaking the blockade would involve sending humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip either through international aid organizations or through other arrangements among Arab states bordering the Gaza Strip, such as tunnel shipping.

According to U.N. reports, more than 1.1 million people-88 percent of Gaza’s residents-depend on food aid from humanitarian organizations, which have been forced to intermittently suspend deliveries when Israel prevented their trucks from passing through the border.

Representatives from Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Egypt are also expected to discuss Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations and reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Egyptian efforts at achieving internal reconciliation through dialogue fell flat when Hamas cancelled 48 hours before scheduled talks with Fatah were to take place on November 10.

"Last minute cancellation on the part of Hamas was very strange. Halting negotiation talks at the last minute signals that some sort of external pressure was put on Hamas," Magdi Subhi, a political analyst at al-Ahram newspaper told AlArabiya.net.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Abul-Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa are expected to review Egypt’s mediation role between Fatah and Hamas and push for more Arab states to get involved in the peace process.

"So far Egypt plays the mediatory role in peace talks and reconciliation process, but having more players would add effective pressure on Hamas and Israel to resolve their issues," said Yusef.

(Alarabiya.net)

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