- GAZA ASSAULT - Israel - Osama bin Laden - terrorism
AFP - Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused some Arab leaders of being "complicit" with Israel during its devastating offensive in Gaza, in an audio tape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television on Saturday.
"It has become clear that some Arab leaders were complicit with the Crusade Zionist alliance against our people. These are the leaders that America calls moderate," bin Laden said.
The audio tape, whose authenticity could not be verified, was the second by the Al-Qaeda leader in two months in which he has focused on the Gaza offensive.
In an audio tape posted on an Internet site on January 14, he called on Muslims across the world to take revenge against Israel for the blitz, charging that the onslaught had been timed to take advantage of the dying days of the presidency of George W. Bush.
The 22-day Israeli offensive on Gaza over the new year, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, caused a rift between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Syria and Qatar on the other.
Egypt faced criticism for refusing to permanently open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, and Syria accused it of bias towards the Palestinian Fatah movement in reconciliation talks with rival faction Hamas, Gaza's rulers.
Cairo has lashed out at Arab countries it says have done nothing to help the Palestinian cause and offer only rhetoric. It has also criticised Iran, which backed Hamas during the war, for "interfering" in an Arab cause.
Egypt is still acting as a broker in a bid to secure a permanent truce in the Gaza conflict after Israel and Hamas declared unilateral ceasefires on January 18.
At the same time, it is mediating intra-Palestinian talks aimed at bringing an end to the rift between Hamas and Fatah that would see the two leading factions agree on a unity government.