World leaders believe that Gaza diplomacy is key for lasting peace
Cairo, Egypt (RushPRnews) 01/18/09–-Leaders from around the world — including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — are converging on the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, hoping to push Israel and Hamas closer to a lasting truce.
No representatives from Israel or Hamas are expected to attend Sunday’s summit, which is being co-chaired by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not be at the summit, he did meet with Mr. Mubarak earlier today. He called Israel’s unilateral cease-fire insufficient.
The Czech Republic, which holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, is calling on Hamas to join the cease-fire “immediately and unconditionally.”
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict condemned the violence that has killed hundreds of “innocent victims,” and urged all in attendance to pray for the success of peace efforts.
On Saturday, the U.N. secretary-general and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice separately welcomed Israel’s declaration of a cease-fire and called on Hamas to stop its rocket fire. They also called for immediate humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Iran says Israel’s declaration of a unilateral cease-fire shows the offensive into Gaza has failed.
In a statement released today, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the cease-fire alone is not enough to end clashes between Israel and Hamas. He also called for a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.
In Beirut, Lebanese security forces used water cannons and tear gas to disperse dozens of angry people, protesting Israel’s actions not far from the U.S. embassy.
The United Nations is calling for a war crimes investigation of Israel, after an Israeli tank fired on a U.N. compound in Gaza Saturday, killing two boys. The boys, along with more than a thousand other people, had taken refuge there. U.N. Secretary-General Ban condemned what he called an “outrageous” attack.
Meanwhile, Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip has soured relations with the Gulf Arab state of Qatar.
Qatar has been the only Gulf state to have trade ties with Israel, but the foreign ministry in Doha now says Israel’s trade representatives must leave.
The state news agency in Qatar says the head of the Israeli trade office was summoned to the foreign ministry Sunday and told the Israelis have seven days to exit the country.
Qatar, along with fellow Arab League member Mauritania, suspended relations with Israel on Friday.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.