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Divided world leaders debate Gaza fighting

Article published on the 2008-12-30 Latest update 2008-12-30 16:34 TU

Injured Palestinian man being loaded onto an ambulance.(Photo: Reuters)

Injured Palestinian man being loaded onto an ambulance.
(Photo: Reuters)

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner hosts European foreign ministers in Paris today, after a conference call with world leaders about the Israeli air-raids on the Gaza Strip. As the reported death toll rises to at least 363, international politicians call for a ceasefire, with Germany and the US blaming the Palestinian Hamas movement for the violence.

The conference call linked Kouchner with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

While some of the participants have limited themselves to calling for both sides to cease fire, the US and Germany have insisted that Hamas is to blame for the escalation in the conflict.

Kouchner is also meeting European foreign ministers in Paris and hopes to convince member states to agree to a joint ceasefire proposal which can be presented to the Israelis and Hamas.

This follows a non-binding statement on Sunday from the UN security council calling for “an immediate halt to all violence”.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) declared that it “holds Israel responsible for the dangerous course events have taken”.

The GCC which includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman said that Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah should “reconcile in these difficult times”.

China and Norway have agreed to provide emergency humanitarian aid.

It is desperately needed, according to Dr Yousef Mousa, chairman of the Union of Health Workers committees in Gaza, who says there is “no medication, no food, no fuel to run the electrical plant in Gaza, and this has a very bad impact on public health”.

Eyewitness: Dr Yousef Mousa, chairman of the Union of Health Workers, Gaza

30/12/2008 by Judith Prescott