CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister criticized the divisions among the Palestinians at the opening of an emergency Arab League meeting Wednesday and said it prevented an effective Arab response to Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Saud al-Faisal slammed the ongoing division of the Palestinians between the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank saying it opened the door to Israel’s attack. “This terrible massacre would not have happened if the Palestinian people were united behind one leadership speaking in one voice,” he said at the league meeting’s opening.
“We are telling our Palestinian brothers that your Arab nation cannot extend a real helping hand if you don’t extend your own hands to each other with love,” he said.
Five days after Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have killed at least 374 Palestinians, the Arab League met to present a united Arab response in the face of widespread outrage across the region.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also urged the Palestinians to reconcile their long schism and called on the Arab nations to present a united stance.
“The weakness of the Arab position and the divisions within the Palestinians ranks have all led to this disregard of the Arabs (internationally),” he said.
At the top the meeting’s agenda is an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
The ministers meet amid increasing animosity in the Arab world toward Egypt over its refusal during the past year to open the Rafah crossing, which has helped complete an Israeli blockade of the territory.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said his country is proposing a package deal to end fighting that include an immediate cease-fire and reopening the crossings to the besieged Strip.
The proposal also includes deploying European and Arab observers to check that both Hamas and Israel abide by the truce once it is established.