More than 300 Kuwaiti and other Gulf Arabs formally launched Saturday the first Gulf organization opposed to ties with Israel, describing the Jewish state as a cancer in the Middle East.
Jassem al-Saqr, a respected veteran Kuwaiti politician and former MP, declared the birth of the "Popular Congress for Struggle against Normalization with Israel" to the applause of dignitaries, most of them from Kuwait.
"Our struggle with Zionism is a fight for existence and survival, and not for borders," the 80-year-old Saqr said.
The meeting was organized by Kuwaiti liberal and Islamic opposition groups and attended by a few representatives from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
But no delegates came from Oman and Qatar, which have Israeli offices, and Saudi Arabia, which prohibits non-official political activities.
"We can not accept a cancerous presence in this region. We oppose normalization with Israel because it's a religious, national and humanitarian duty," said UAE representative Mohammad al-Rukun.
"We have formed this congress to safeguard the identity of the Gulf against attempts of penetration by the Israeli enemy," said the final communiqué of the meeting.
More than half of Kuwait's 50-member parliament, tens of political activists representing various political groupings and a few women attended the conference. No government official attended.
The delegates elected an 11-member committee, which included one representative from Bahrain and another from UAE. The committee is due to elect a president and a secretary-general for the Congress.
Abdullah al-Nafisi, an outspoken Islamic academic expected to become the secretary general, called for Qatar and Oman to close the Israeli offices and expel Jewish officials.
"Israeli officials have visited Gulf states and were accorded warm welcomes and presented with valuable gifts," Nafisi said.
Oman and Qatar have commercial relations with Israel, but no Gulf country has diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
The Congress statement urged Arab governments to restore the economic boycott against Israel, abandoned by most Arab states because of the Middle East peace negotiations.
It called for setting up a research center "to monitor the Israeli enemy and its political, economic and media moves."
The statement urged the formation of similar organizations in other Gulf states with the aim to "coordinate and integrate anti-Israeli efforts."
It approved the creation of anti-normalization teams in various sectors of society to activate anti-Israeli sentiments.
The Congress was set up by seven Kuwaiti MPs in December following the resumption of peace talks between Syria and Israel.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said last Tuesday his country will not normalize relations with Israel before other concerned Arab countries, especially Syria and Lebanon -- KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Photo by AFP.
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