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      Arab Foreign Ministers Blame Israel for Gaza Violence

      Arab foreign ministers denounce Israel's operation in Gaza at an emergency meeting, call to prosecute Israel for war crimes.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 11/18/2012, 4:30 AM

      Arab League meeting in Cairo
      Arab League meeting in Cairo
      AFP photo

      Arab foreign ministers denounced Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza at an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday, AFP reported.

      According to the report, the Arab ministers decided that Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi would head a delegation to Gaza in a show of solidarity, and to review the "usefulness" of their past diplomacy towards Israel.

      The ministers at the Arab League meeting asked a task force to review "the usefulness of continuing the Arab commitment in proposing the Arab peace initiative as a strategic choice," according to a statement issued after the meeting and quoted by AFP.

      Member states should "reconsider all past Arab initiatives on the peace process and review their stance on the process as a whole," said Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.

      In 2002, Arab states offered Israel diplomatic recognition in return for its withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and an equitable settlement of the question of the “Palestinian refugees.”

      "Our meetings have become a waste of money and a waste of time," said Qatar's prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani. "The whole situation needs a clear and honest review."

      The Arab ministers placed the blame for the most recent round of fighting around Gaza on Israel, ignoring the constant rocket attacks by Gaza-based terrorists on Israel.

      Arab affairs expert Dalit Halevi noted that in addition, the ministers demanded that Israel be prosecuted for "war crimes" and “crimes against humanity.” They also called to prosecute the “Zionist war criminals.”

      According to AFP, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal was in Cairo to meet Egypt's intelligence chief, traditionally the point man in mediating truces with Israel, and the visiting Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

      A senior Hamas official told AFP the movement was reluctant to agree a truce because it does not believe mediators could guarantee the terms of a ceasefire. The "international community" had to put pressure on Israel, said the official.

      The Palestinian Information Centre, a website close to Hamas and which acts as its mouthpiece, reported that Mashaal had demanded "international guarantees" in his meeting with Egypt's intelligence chief.

      One of his demands was that Israel lift the naval blockade it imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized the area in 2007.

      Reports surfaced on Saturday night that Israel will send a senior official on its behalf to Cairo to sign a ceasefire.

      Israel has denied the reports and is continuing to mass troops near Gaza and striking terrorist enclaves, smuggling tunnels and rocket launching sites.

      Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi said on Saturday his government was in touch with both Israelis and Palestinians and there were indications they could "soon" reach a truce, but there were no guarantees.

      "There are some indications that there could be a ceasefire soon," Morsi said at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding that there were still "no guarantees."

      Meanwhile, the IDF's pounding of Hamas' infrastructure in Gaza entered its fourth day Saturday, and is deemed as highly successful until this point.

      The Hamas government headquarters, which housed Gaza "prime minister" Ismail Haniyeh's offices, were leveled to the ground. In addition, "security compounds, tunnels and electricity transformers" were hit, according to Al Jazeera.

      "Missiles also knocked out five electricity transformers, plunging more than 400,000 people into darkness, according to the Gaza electricity distribution company," the news network reported.