Arab FMs decide to break Gaza blockade, return to UNSC, international justice

Saudi Arabia: Israel would not have committed massacre if there had been no outrageous international silence over its acts

Kuwait denies it withdrew from Arab peace initiative

Israel repeats earlier experience by forming its own probe into carnage

Palestinian leader Abbas urges Hamas to seek reconciliation as optimal response to Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid flotilla

Arab League foreign ministers adopted a resolution on Wednesday, condemning "Israeli aggression on the freedom flotilla", referring to Monday's interception of boats trying to break the naval blockade on Gaza. The ministers also adopted a resolution that called for breaking the blockade in any way possible to bring Gaza food, building supplies and medical supplies.

The meeting in Cairo demanded a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to demand that Israel remove the blockade, which the ministers called "a crime against humanity which has to be stopped immediately by all legitimate means, including resistance." The league did not decide to go to war with Israel, but the next Arab summit, at a date to be determined, will discuss proposals to cancel the Saudi peace proposal and endorse the end of Israeli-Palestinian talks, according to media reports.

Arab foreign ministers were meeting in Cairo late Wednesday in a bid to come up with a unified response to an Israeli raid on an aid convoy bound for the Gaza Strip that left at least nine people dead.

Foreign ministers arrived at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo and went straight into closed-door talks, an AFP correspondent said.

Ambassadors to the 22-member body held consultations on Tuesday to prepare for the ministerial meeting.

Syria’s ambassador to the Arab League, Yussef Ahmad, on Tuesday urged members to “halt all forms of normalization with the Jewish state,” including the closure of Israeli embassies in member countries.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed a peace deal with Israel, but others such as Qatar and Mauritania also have relations with Israel.

Ahmad urged the League to press the Palestinian Authority to suspend US-brokered proximity talks with Israel, a stand likely to face resistance from US allies Egypt and Jordan.

The meetings come after Israeli commandos stormed an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip on Monday, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists and sparking an international outcry.

The six ships were carrying 10,000 tons of supplies to the impoverished enclave, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007 when the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the strip.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on Monday had condemned the violent actions of Israeli soldiers against civilians onboard the Freedom Flotilla heading to Palestine.

The OIC said it condemned the uncalled for actions of Israeli troops against Freedom Flotilla civilians delivering humanitarian aid and for their solidarity to the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC, said in a statement that Israel should be held fully responsible for the wellbeing and safety of all people on the ship, adding that such a crime is a deliberate violation of international laws and human values.

He also said that Israel must lift the siege it is imposing on Gaza, which debilitated the economy and worsened the living conditions in Gaza.

He also asked Islamic Organizations in New York and Geneva to take action on the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council levels to discuss the repercussions of this terrible crime.

He called on member countries and all international parties to take action and put a stop to Israel’s violent actions on Palestinians’ lands.

He also said that investigations must be carried out on Israel’s crime, which occurred on international waters, against the people of the Freedom flotilla and to bring all those responsible to justice.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on Monday condemned the violent actions of Israeli soldiers against civilians onboard the Freedom Flotilla heading to Palestine.

The OIC said it condemned the uncalled for actions of Israeli troops against Freedom Flotilla civilians delivering humanitarian aid and for their solidarity to the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC, said in a statement that Israel should be held fully responsible for the wellbeing and safety of all people on the ship, adding that such a crime is a deliberate violation of international laws and human values.

He also said that Israel must lift the siege it is imposing on Gaza, which debilitated the economy and worsened the living conditions in Gaza.

He also asked Islamic Organizations in New York and Geneva to take action on the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council levels to discuss the repercussions of this terrible crime.

He called on member countries and all international parties to take action and put a stop to Israel’s violent actions on Palestinians’ lands.

He also said that investigations must be carried out on Israel’s crime, which occurred on international waters, against the people of the Freedom flotilla and to bring all those responsible to justice.

Angry Turks mourned activists killed in Israel's seizure of a Gaza-bound aid ship, as Israel deflected U.N. demands for an independent international inquiry by offering to conduct its own probe with outside observers.

Turkey continued to fume over the killing of nine of its nationals, one of whom also held U.S. citizenship. Thousands thronged an Istanbul funeral for eight of the pro-Palestinian activists who died in Monday's naval commando.

The coffins were draped in Turkish and Palestinian flags. "Turkey will never forget such an attack on its ships and its people in international waters. Turkey's ties with Israel will never be the same again," President Abdullah Gul said of once-close relations with a strategic ally.

Turkish and foreign pro-Palestinian activists from the ship leveled charges of "war crimes" at the Israeli marines who stormed the cruise liner Mavi Marmara and five other vessels in an aid flotilla for the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Witness accounts from activists returning home after being released by Israel contradicted the official Israeli account that the soldiers fired only in self defense after trying non-lethal methods.

The head of a Turkish charity that organized the flotilla carrying relief supplies said activists had grabbed guns from 10 marines in self-defense and thrown the weapons overboard without having fired them.

"We told our friends on board: 'We will die, become martyrs, but never let us be shown... as the ones who used guns'," said Bulent Yildirim, chairman of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief.

Video showed commandos being winched onto the ship's deck from helicopters only to be outnumbered and set upon with clubs by activists.

Footage also showed a man with a knife stabbing a commando and the military said activists seized two pistols from the boarding party and shot and wounded two of the commandos.

"Once the soldiers saw knives, metal rods, chains and broken bottles and they were shot at, they shot back and killed nine of them," said Israeli military spokesman Arye Shalicar.

Israel says the four-year-old blockade is to prevent the Palestinian territory’s Hamas Islamist rulers bringing in Iranian long-range rockets. The United Nations, the European Union and Arab states say it has caused a humanitarian disaster.

Amid a global outcry, which included Turkey recalling its ambassador in Tel Aviv, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden suggested an Israeli probe with international involvement, a proposal embraced by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"I am in favor of an investigation. We have enough high-level legal experts ... if they want to take on observers from the outside, they can invite observers," Lieberman said on Israel Radio.

"I propose we use South Korea as an example," Lieberman said, referring to an investigation launched by Seoul that included experts from the United States, Australia, Britain and Sweden, after the sinking of one of its warships in March.

Last September, Israel was stung by a U.N. inquiry into the three-week offensive it launched in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 which found evidence that its forces committed war crimes, allegations Israeli leaders denied.

Further confrontation at sea loomed on the horizon.

The MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship bought by pro-Palestinian activists and named after an American woman killed by an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, expected to be off Gaza's coast by Saturday, a crew member said.

Lieberman said Israel would not allow its Gaza blockade to be breached. "No ship will reach Gaza. The Rachel Corrie will not reach Gaza," he told Israel Radio.

More accounts of Monday's bloodshed emerged despite Israeli efforts to contain the damage by confiscating cameras and film of the incident.

Aljazeera television cameraman Andre Abu Khalil, who was on the Mavi Marmara, said that after the initial Israeli assault on the vessel, four Israeli troops, suffering from "fracture wounds," were held below deck by the activists.

He said other commandos, trying to scale the ship, opened fire to break up a human chain of about 20 Turkish men, who were using slingshots, water hoses and metal pipes to try to hold off the boarding party.

Abu Khalil said the line disintegrated after the troops shot one of the men in the neck and the other in the head. In all, the cameraman counted 40 wounded passengers, many with bullet wounds to the legs, apparently to disable them. Others were shot in the eyes, stomach and chest.

On the lower deck, Abu Khalil said, someone using a loudspeaker told the Israelis: "Your soldiers are fine and they'll be released if you provide us with medical help for the wounded."

An Israeli Arab legislator who participated in the flotilla acted as a mediator. She raised a white flag and wrote in Hebrew on a piece of cardboard, according to the cameraman.

"We did not expect our soldiers to get into a situation where they would have to fight for their survival," Shalicar said. "We expected demonstrations on board -- pushing, calling us whatever -- and that a few radicals would try to beat us. But we were very much astonished by the violence of more than 50 to 70 radicals ... it looked very well organized, not spontaneous."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unrepentant defense of the Gaza blockade, lambasting European and other governments for "hypocrisy" in challenging Israel's efforts to prevent the Iranian-backed Islamists from arming.

In the occupied West Bank, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the "tragedy of the last week" must not undermine indirect negotiations he is mediating between Israel and the Palestinians, which he said were making some progress.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said Islamic Hamas movement's response to the national reconciliation initiative was not encouraging.

Abbas plans to send a senior delegation representing Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and his Fatah party to the Hamas- controlled Gaza Strip, but Hamas' response to this initiative "was not encouraging."

Abbas' remarks were made at the opening session of the second Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, a day after announcing the delegation will head for Gaza.

Abbas described Hamas' position as "shameful," urging it to stop demanding amendments to an Egyptian proposal to reconcile Hamas and Fatah "in order to stand together against the Israeli aggression."

Meanwhile, Abbas called for a united international and Arab stance to lift Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip. He added that the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which Israel attacked on Monday, was “the first serious initiative to break the siege on the Palestinian people."

At least nine pro-Palestinian campaigners were killed when Israel raided the vessels and forced them to dock in its sea ports. The fleet was carrying 10,000 tons of supplies to Gaza.

Abbas called for an international investigation into the Israeli attack on the flotilla, demanding the UN Security Council to oversee the inquiry.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007 to isolate Hamas which routed pro-Abbas forces and took over the enclave.