Diplomatic spats confuse Gaza ceasefire dialogue - Summary
Diplomatic discord reigned on Friday in the Arab world in the midst of three competing summits aimed at bringing a ceasefire to Gaza. Following a meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council members in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on Thursday, neighbouring state Qatar hosted its own conference on Friday, with members of Hamas' Damascus- based political bureau present. Egypt, the main mediator between the militant Palestinian movement and Israel, did not attend, dpa reported.
A further meeting on the Gaza crisis was due to take place at an Arab League economic meeting in Kuwait on Monday.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who said in Qatari capital Doha that Israel had become a "symbol of human rights violations," expressed his disappointment that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had decided not to attend.
"We had hoped that Abbas would come today, but he has decided not to appear," the Qatari head of state said.
The Palestinian representation instead took the form of Khaled Meshaal, head of the militant Islamist movement's Damascus political bureau, the founder of People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command Ahmed Jibril, and Islamic Jihad's Ramadan Shella.
However, a spokesman for president Abbas, Abed Rabbo, said that "the Emir of Qatar has not ascertained who represents the Palestinians," the Arabic television channel al-Arabiya reported.
A spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry added, referring to the shuttle-diplomacy taking place between Jerusalem and Cairo, that "the efforts of the past few days show who is big in the Arab world, and who is small."
Israeli negotiator Amos Gilad returned to Cairo on Friday to discuss elements of a ceasefire plan with the Egyptian government, who are mediating between Israel and Hamas, that would be acceptable to both parties.
The Arab foreign ministers due to gather in Kuwait for Monday's Arab League finance meeting are set to dispense financial aid for Gaza - although, according to Arab League sources, this money will not be distributed through Hamas.
In Qatar, Meshaal said that Hamas would not accept any preconditions to a ceasefire by Israel in the Gaza Strip,adding that the Palestinian movement in Gaza "had not suffered a defeat," and that they would therefore not accept any preconditions of the opponent.
Meshaal said that the most important elements of any ceasefire would be: the end of attacks in Gaza; withdrawal of Israeli troops from the salient; the lifting of the economic blockade and the re-opening of the border crossing points between Egypt and Gaza.