Gulf States Forging Arab Initiative to Curb Israeli Aggression
Gulf Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, are working on an Arab initiative aimed at ending "Israel's aggression" against the Palestinians, for which they partly blame the United States, diplomats said Thursday.
Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who start a two-day meeting in Jeddah Friday, "will formulate an Arab initiative based on Saudi ideas which have been the subject of inter-Arab consultations," a Riyadh-based Arab diplomat told AFP.
The diplomat, who is familiar with the ongoing consultations among the six GCC capitals, said the objective was to persuade the United States to "shoulder its responsibilities in order to halt the Israeli army's carnage against the Palestinians, thus ending the cycle of violence and reviving the Middle East peace process."
Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh told Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite TV Wednesday night that Saudi Arabia had "proposed new ideas" to end the violence, adding that a Saudi envoy had relayed to him a message from King Fahd.
The Riyadh-based diplomat would not explain how Washington would be persuaded to intervene, saying the proposed initiative will be discussed during an Arab League foreign ministers meeting opening in Cairo Sunday.
"It is time for the United States in particular to shoulder its responsibilities in order to put an end to Israel's attacks" against the Palestinians, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in Amman Wednesday at the end of a tour that took him earlier to Cairo, Damascus and Beirut.
"Arab states have done their best to relaunch the peace process ... (but) the situation is getting worse," he said.
"Enough is enough," added the Saudi chief diplomat, whose remarks were splashed on the front pages of Saudi newspapers Thursday, reflecting growing anger at the United States among the Arab public.
"It is time the Arabs translated their words into deeds," the Saudi daily Al-Madina wrote Thursday.
So far, "Washington feels it has nothing to lose by (condoning) the systematic killings perpetrated by (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon ... irrespective of the unease expressed by the Arabs," the paper said in its leader.
But Al-Bilad, another Saudi daily, said the GCC chief diplomats meeting in Jeddah would send "a clear message to the United States about the wrong practices of the Sharon government."
"Arab states are awaiting American and European pressure on Israel ... without delay, because the interests of all sides risk being engulfed by a fire which it will be impossible to contain," warned a third Saudi daily, Al-Jazeera.
In remarks published by the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat Wednesday, GCC Secretary-General Jamil al-Hujailan deplored US "silence" and urged Washington to "redouble efforts" to contain the violence in the Palestinian territories.
"The disengagement of the sponsors of the peace process has resulted in a deterioration of the situation," Oman's ambassador in Riyadh, Ali al-Kalbani, told AFP in a reference to the United States.
The Saudi "ideas" that will be discussed at the Jeddah meeting will "serve as a mechanism" for any subsequent Arab diplomatic drive, he added.
Gulf official sources say GCC foreign ministers plan to meet their US counterpart Colin Powell in late September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's annual session in New York.
The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates alongside Saudi Arabia -- RIYADH (AFP)
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