CAIRO Nov 17 Arab foreign ministers will
consider on Saturday a draft statement that calls for the Arab
League chief to lead a delegation to Gaza and voices support for
Egypt's efforts to negotiate a truce, an Arab diplomatic source
The ministerial meeting was called shortly after Israel
launched a massive air campaign on Wednesday with the declared
aim of deterring Hamas in Gaza from launching cross-border
rocket salvoes that have plagued southern Israel for years.
On Saturday, Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas government
buildings 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.
The 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 League
Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to lead a delegation of
ministers to Gaza "immediately" to show solidarity with
Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem visited Gaza on
Saturday, a day after Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil
crossed the border into the Palestinian enclave, condemning
Israeli actions and pledging to work for a truce.
The ministerial draft also called for the U.N. Security
Council to take the necessary steps to halt the violence and
"protect the Palestinian people."
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi was due to hold four-way
talks with the Qatari emir, the prime minister of Turkey and
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the
Gaza crisis, a presidential source said.
Turkish premier Tayyip Erdogan has been an outspoken critic
of Israel, while Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa
al-Thani, visited Gaza in October, breaking the isolation of the
Palestinian group. Both arrived in Egypt earlier in the day.
Erdogan, whose trip was planned before the Gaza violence
surged, was due to speak at Cairo University on Saturday.
Meshaal held talks earlier on Saturday with Egyptian
security officials on prospects for a truce, an Egyptian
official told Reuters. "Efforts (towards a truce) will continue
with all sides of the conflict today (Saturday)," the official