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Arab league says no quorum for Gaza summit in Qatar

(Updates with Arab League head remarks, previous DUBAI)

KUWAIT, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The Arab League said on Wednesday there was no quorum to convene an Arab summit in Qatar this week on Israel's offensive in Gaza, which has led to a tug-of-war splitting the Arab world into two camps.

"Thirteen countries have given their acceptance, therefore the quorum has not been met yet," Arab League chief Amr Moussa told reporters in Kuwait.

Qatar, seen as a political maverick in a conservative region, said earlier it had the needed quorum of 15 League members the emergency Arab summit which it proposes to host on Friday.

Saudi Arabia, which recently patched up once-tense relations with neighbour Qatar, is hosting a separate emergency meeting of Gulf Arab states on Thursday, which appeared to upstage Qatar's attempt.

With the death toll in Gaza rising above 1,000, the summit plans have underscored deep divisions in the Arab world and risk further undermining the 22-member Arab League, already considered by many ordinary Arabs to be a toothless body.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, both opposed to the Hamas group that rules Gaza, have said they would attend the Jan. 19-20 Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait and would discuss the matter there next week, rather than meeting in Doha.

Conservative Arab governments are wary of summits at times of crisis because they are reluctant to pass confrontational resolutions which would meet the expectations of public opinion. Egypt, the only Arab state bordering Gaza, has also faced Arab criticism for cooperating in the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Egypt says it will not open the Gaza-Egypt border for normal traffic without the presence of the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces Hamas routed in 2007.

The Kuwait summit is to merge discussion of the Gaza conflict with the previously scheduled economic meeting.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a Middle East tour aimed at securing a ceasefire in Gaza, is due to address the summit in Kuwait on Monday.

Qatar has said it would attend the Kuwait summit at the highest level, regardless of whether a special meeting on Gaza is held in Doha or not.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told a news conference the countries which did not agree were Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain and Kuwait. (Reporting by Lin Noueihed in Dubai and Jonathan Wright in Cairo; additional reporting by Mahmud Harbi in Kuwait; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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