Khaleej Times (Editorial)
January 15, 2009 - 1:00am

This is the third consecutive week of Israel’s relentless offensive on Gaza. More than a thousand people have been killed, over 400 of them women and children.

All efforts by the international community, including the United Nations, Europeans and others, have failed to break Israel’s resolve to destroy what remains of Gaza Strip. Individual efforts by Arab and Muslim countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have failed to bear fruit as well.

This is why it’s about time the Arab countries put heads together and joined hands to launch urgent and concerted efforts at the highest level to end this bloodletting of a helpless people in Gaza.

The UAE has joined the latest initiative for an Arab summit confirming its participation in the proposed emergency session in Doha. With the UAE’s decision to attend the summit, 14 countries have now expressed their keenness to be part of the emergency meeting in Doha.

This, with the host country, means the two-third quorum needed for an extraordinary summit has been reached. The call for an extraordinary Arab summit had been given soon after Israel attacked Gaza in the closing week of 2008. Unfortunately though, there was no agreement among Arab League member states on the need for an emergency summit at the time. Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the regional heavyweights, favoured informal consultations among member states, rather than a heads of state summit, to restrain Israel.

Tragically, as everyone is aware, those informal and individual efforts have failed to end Israel’s murderous campaign against the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have paid with their lives literally for the disunity in Arab ranks. Every squandered minute and every lost opportunity to stop this war has meant more and more innocent lives lost. And the longer the Arabs delay effective action and response to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, the more Palestinian men, women and children will get killed.

Of course, convening an Arab summit in itself will not translate into a magic formula to end Israel’s aggression. If it were that simple, this war would have ended long ago.

Reining in Israel and forcing it to end this disproportionate war on unarmed civilians isn’t going to be easy. But if the Arabs speak in one voice and act in unison, there’s no reason they cannot persuade Israel’s friends and patrons to ?restrain it.

Bahrain has suggested a summit of Arab and Muslim states. The idea is good but there’s absolutely no time to implement it. Most Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE of course have very close and amicable relations with the US and West. It’s time to make use of these historical ties to tell our Western friends that ‘enough is enough’ and that it’s high time they convinced the Israelis to behave. The Jewish state’s campaign against the Palestinians — being watched in full view of the international community — and the West’s failure to stop it has once again set the Arab and Muslim world on fire. If the world does not act to restrain Israel now, there will be an incalculable price to pay.

And this mustn’t stop with peace in Gaza. Incoming US president Barack Obama who has promised a new approach to the Middle East must push Israel for a final settlement with the Palestinians during his first year in office. Else the entire region will turn into Gaza.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017