DOHA (AFP) — Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani called on Thursday for Arab countries to create a fund for Gaza's reconstruction following 20 days of Israeli shelling that has left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins.
Sheikh Hamad pledged his country would contribute 250 million dollars to the fund.
In an address shown on Qatari television overnight, he also called on Arab nations to reconsider their diplomatic ties with Israel in response to the Israeli attacks that so far have killed more than 1,000 people in the Hamas-run territory while a further 4,850 people have been wounded.
Sheikh Hamad repeated his invitation for Arab countries to hold an extraordinary summit in Doha on Friday to discuss the Gaza onslaught, the fourth such plea since December 28.
Arab League Chief Amr Mussa confirmed upon his arrival in Kuwait late on Wednesday that the quorum of 15 to hold a summit in Doha has not been achieved. So far only 13 countries have agreed attend.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday organised an emergency summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Riyadh for Thursday, accentuating the rift between Arab countries, with some backing the Islamist movement Hamas and others supporting Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.
If the Doha summit goes ahead, Sheikh Hamad pledged to make a number of propositions to "stop the bloodshed" of Palestinians in Gaza.
His ideas include "freezing the Arab peace initiative and the suspension of all forms of normalisation with Israel, including the reconsideration of diplomatic ties."
Qatar is the only Arab Gulf country to maintain commercial ties with Israel, while Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab countries that have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
The Saudi-proposed Arab peace initiative, adopted at Arab summits in 2002 and again in 2007, offers Israel normalisation of relations and comprehensive peace agreements with Arab countries in exchange for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all the territories it has occupied since 1967.
Israel has never agreed to this initiative, though it says the plan has positive elements.
Sheikh Hamad also suggested the creation of a "maritime bridge" to transfer humanitarian aid to the battered territory.
"We have not called a summit to prepare Arab armies for a war against Israel," Sheikh Hamad said in his address. "We are not dreaming," he added.
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