Arab Leaders To Back Hamas, Gaza Against Israels' Aggression

Arab Leaders To Back Hamas, Gaza Against Israels' Aggression

Arab Leaders To Back Hamas, Gaza Against Israels' Aggression

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby has pledged to support Palestinians against "Israel's aggression" and to end the blockade of Gaza during talks between Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

The leaders said they will consider a draft statement on Saturday that calls for the Arab League chief to lead a delegation to the Gaza Strip and voices support for Egypt's efforts to negotiate a truce.

Maan News Agency has reported a delegation led by Elaraby, and including Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki, will visit Gaza on Sunday to show solidarity. Hamas has not yet confirmed the visit. 

Saturday's meeting was called for after Israel launched a massive air campaign on Wednesday with the declared aim of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian group which controls Gaza, from launching cross-border rocket salvoes that have plagued southern Israel for years.

Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas government buildings on Saturday in the Palestinian territory, after Israel's cabinet authorised the mobilisation of up to 75,000 reservists, preparing for a possible ground invasion. Egypt had brokered an informal truce in October, which has since collapsed. It now says it is seeking a new deal.

An Arab diplomatic source, who declined to be named, said the draft to be discussed by the ministers expressed the Cairo-based League's support for Egypt's efforts to achieve a "long-term truce" between Israel and Palestinian factions.

As well as condemning Israel for "aggression" and calling for it to stop attacks, the draft called for Nabil Elaraby, the Arab League secretary-general, to lead a delegation of ministers to Gaza "immediately" to show solidarity with Palestinians.

The ministerial draft also called for the UN Security Council to take the necessary steps to halt the violence and "protect the Palestinian people".

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