CAIRO - Arab foreign ministers are to meet in Cairo on Monday to discuss the escalating conflict between Hamas militants in Gaza and Israel which has already killed more than 120 Palestinians, a diplomat said.
Kuwait, which holds the rotating leadership of the Arab League headquartered in the Egyptian capital, had demanded the ‘urgent’ meeting, the diplomat told AFP on Saturday. There has been no coordinated Arab response to the conflict which erupted on Tuesday when Israel launched waves of air strikes against Gaza aimed at halting rocket fire across the border.
Egypt, the traditional broker in Israeli-Hamas conflicts, said Friday its efforts to halt violence in the Gaza Strip had met with ‘stubbornness’. But it is seen as having taken a step back from the latest round of fighting. Its new government has been opposed to Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood which the military ousted from power last year.
Moreover, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Saturday he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the loss of life in Gaza, where five days of Israeli air strikes have killed more than 120 Palestinians.
‘Extremely concerned about humanitarian situation and loss of life in Gaza. Speaking to President Abbas today,’ Hague said on Twitter. The Foreign Office confirmed the tweet and said that a fuller statement would be issued later.
Hague’s statement represents a departure from the British government stance so far which has unequivocally backed Israel’s right to launch air strikes in response to rocket attacks by Hamas militants based in Gaza. British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday spoke to Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu to show ‘staunch support’ and ‘underlined Israel’s right to defend itself from them’, his Downing Street office said.