DOHA, Qatar - Leaders from the 22 member nations of the Arab League began a summit on Monday in Qatar.
On the agenda are stalled talks between rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, the Iranian nuclear program, and the incoming Israeli government under the leadership of Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu.
Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim a-Thani, who also serves as the country's foreign minister, was on hand at the airport to extend a warm welcome to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
On March 4, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest for crimes against humanity, but Arab League members have agreed to ignore the warrant.
Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa said they would continue efforts "to halt the implementation of the warrant, including asking the UN Security Council to close the case against al-Bashir."
Amnesty International head Irene Khan admonished Egypt for receiving Bashir in Cairo last week, saying that Arab League member nations "should not shield President al-Bashir from international justice."
"By declaring that President Bashir has immunity from arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the League has undermined international law, which provides no such immunity for anyone, even a serving head of state, for such grave crimes," Khan said.
Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is conspicuously absent from the summit, having tasked Minister of Legal Affairs Mufid Shehab to lead the delegation from Egypt.
The Qatari news agency quoted the country's prime minister as having accepted Mubarak's decision.
"I cannot say that Qatar-Egypt relations are excellent," the news agency quoted Sheikh a-Thani as saying, "but there are roots of fraternal ties with Egypt as a big country that we respect," he said.
Palestinian Authority PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Arab MK MEMBER OF KNESSET Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List - Ta'al) traveled to Qatar to attend the summit.
Tibi will not be present on Tuesday when the new Israeli government is sworn in.
"It is not the business of the extremist, fascist Right with whom MK Ahmed Tibi will met," Tibi's aide, attorney Reda Jaber said, responding to a report that at least one MK spoke of investigating Tibi's actions at the Arab League summit.
Source: The Jerusalem Post