RIYADH, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia accused Israel on Monday of “racist extermination” in its attack on Gaza and expressed hope that incoming U.S. president Barack Obama would work to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The cabinet said the extermination Israel is launching upon the Palestinian people in Gaza has denuded Israeli leaders of humanity and places their policies in the ranks of racist extermination,” said a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.
“The cabinet expressed its optimism over the statements of president-elect Barack Obama concerning how affected he was by the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, and his intention to move in an immediate and orderly fashion towards finding a fair resolution of the Palestinian question.”
Medical officials said the Palestinian death toll in Israeli offensive, which began on Dec. 27, had risen past 900 and included at least 380 civilians. Israel says 13 Israelis have died — three civilians hit by rockets and 10 soldiers.
Obama said on Sunday the deaths of civilians in the fighting were “heartbreaking”, and that his administration would act immediately as a third party that wants to see a fair resolution to the historic conflict.
The Saudi statement said that the cabinet “looks forward to an incoming American administration that is more serious, objective and independent in dealing with the Palestinian issue”, SPA said.
Arab governments have long complained that U.S. administrations lean towards Israel in the conflict.
Saudi Arabia has organised an aid campaign for Palestinians that has gathered over 100 million riyals ($27 million), as the government tries to respond to popular anger over the offensive while preventing street protests.
The Saudi government has refrained from explicitly blaming Hamas for the Israeli offensive, but some writers in Saudi media have attacked Hamas for aligning itself with Shi’ite power Iran.