By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Abbas urges Israel to end aggression, seeks support for Palestinians at Islamic summit
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheik Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, foreground, participates in the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Dakar, Senegal, Thursday, March 13, 2008. The leaders of dozens of Islamic nations gathered in Senegal's capital Thursday for the opening of a two-day summit to study ways to improve Islam's image in the West and spur economic development in some of the Muslim world's poorest members. - photo by Associated Press
    DAKAR, Senegal — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to end its aggression in Gaza and the West Bank and appealed for support from Muslim nations during a ‘‘difficult junction’’ in the Mideast peace process.
    Abbas was addressing the leaders of dozens of Islamic countries gathered Thursday for a two-day summit in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. The chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, condemned Israeli attacks but also called for unity among the feuding Palestinian factions Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah.
    U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and Abbas have been strained by a recent surge in fighting in the Gaza Strip. In recent weeks, an especially bloody round of violence left more than 120 Palestinians and five Israelis dead. Abbas suspended peace talks for a few days, alarmed by the high Palestinian casualty toll in Gaza.
    ‘‘We are fully aware of the fact that we are going through a very difficult juncture of negotiations in which we need your full support,’’ Abbas told leaders of the 57-nation OIC, the world’s largest Muslim organization.
    Palestinians expect Israel to meet ‘‘commitments to put an end to its aggressions and settlements expansion,’’ Abbas said. ‘‘Yet what is taking place on the ground today is totally in violation of that.’’
    Palestinians are split between the moderate government led by Abbas in the West Bank and the militant Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since seizing the coastal strip by force from Fatah last year.
    ‘‘I should like to tell our brothers and sisters of Palestine that your unity is the first priority of success. ... Please unite,’’ Wade said. He also called Israel ‘‘an occupying power’’ and urged its government to ‘‘immediately stop its disproportionate use of force.’’
    Some 40 heads of state were attending the conference including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
    A draft declaration to be adopted by the leaders ‘‘backs Palestine, and condemns Israel for what it is doing in Gaza,’’ Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said.
    Associated Press Writer Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter