CAIRO, Nov 17, 2012 (AFP) -
CAIRO, Nov 17, 2012 (AFP) –
Egypt and Turkey put the onus on Israel Saturday to end the fighting around Gaza as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Cairo a day after Washington urged both key governments to pressure the Palestinians.
Erdogan’s visit comes amid a flurry of meetings to coordinate Arab and Turkey’s response to Israel’s conflict with Hamas, with 40 Palestinians and three Israelis killed in four days of air strikes in Gaza and rocket attacks on Israel.
Erdogan, who headed straight into talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi after landing in Cairo, blamed Israel for the latest upsurge in violence.
“It’s a tactic of Israel’s to point the finger at Hamas and attack Gaza,” he told reporters before leaving Ankara.
“Israel continues to make an international racket with its three dead,” he said of three Israelis killed by a rocket fired from Gaza. “In fact it is Israel that violated the ceasefire.”
After meeting Morsi, Erdogan said in a speech at Cairo University that Israel would “sooner or later” be held to account for “the massacre of these innocent children killed inhumanely in Gaza.”
The Palestinian Centre for Human rights said six children have been killed in the fighting so far.
Morsi also met Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the president’s spokesman said, as Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal arrived for tentative talks on ending the fighting.
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, adding that the “international community” had to put pressure on Israel.
Arab foreign ministers convened an emergency meeting in Cairo called by Morsi and the Palestinians, which an Arab diplomat said would demand Israel that immediately halt operations in Gaza.
But, crucially, the United States has backed Israel, with President Barack Obama telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call that Washington supported “Israel’s right to defend itself.”
An Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman earlier issued a statement expressing “astonishment at the international community’s feeble stance towards this aggression, and some countries’ attempts to blame the Palestinians.”
“All that’s left is to blame the children in Gaza for standing under Israeli missiles,” the spokesman, Amr Roshdy, added.
Both Egypt and Turkey have in the past mediated ceasefires and a prisoner exchange between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Ahmed Jaabari, the military chief killed in Wednesday’s air strike, was Hamas’s point man in those mediation efforts.
Egypt and Turkey both have long-standing relations with the Jewish state that have grown increasingly cold over Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.
Morsi, elected in June after a popular uprising overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak early last year, recalled his ambassador in Tel Aviv after Wednesday’s air strikes and sent his prime minister to Gaza in a show of support.