Arabs advised to sever ties with Israel : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Arabs advised to sever ties with Israel

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Arab governments should sever all contact with Israel until the Jewish state stops attacking Palestinians, Arab representatives demanded Saturday, raising doubts as to whether Egypt and Jordan would continue efforts to mediate an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.

A meeting of Arab foreign ministers and delegates made the recommendation. Arab League declarations are not binding on governments, but the foreign ministers and other senior officials attending Saturday's meeting were believed to have been in contact with the highest levels of their governments during the eight-hour gathering.

"The meeting called for severing all Arabic political communication with Israel as long as the aggression of the siege on the Palestinian people and their national authority continues," according to a statement issued at the end of the emergency meeting.

Lending weight to the call were the two men who made it - Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who spent years mediating with the Israelis and Palestinians as Egypt's foreign minister, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah Khatib.

Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab countries to have signed peace agreements with Israel. Both also have been pushing hard for a diplomatic resolution to the latest violence which has left more than 500 dead since Sept. 28.

"Our intention is not to talk about or fall in the trap of talking about peace proposals while we see that the Israeli government does not really mean it," Moussa said. "The attacks against the Palestinians will have to stop, otherwise we will be acting under the point of the gun which we totally and utterly reject."

The Arab League committee also called on Moussa to ensure immediate financial support to the Palestinian Authority and it urged public donations to support the intefadeh. In its statement, the committee criticized the Israeli government for its reluctance to accept cease-fire proposals including an Egyptian-Jordanian initiative.

Like the main proposals under consideration, the committee's statement called on Israel to freeze settlement construction. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been an advocate for Jewish settlers, resisting efforts to halt construction.

Earlier Saturday, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told the Arab League gathering in Cairo that fighting in Palestinian lands has escalated into a "decisive battle for Palestine." Moussa had described recent Israeli actions as "systematic killing of the Palestinians with the aim of exterminating them."

Moussa reiterated Arab calls for an international peacekeeping force in the Palestinian territories - a proposal that Israel and the United States have rejected. In all, 468 Palestinians and 84 Israelis have been killed since September.

Anger in the Arab world is at fever-pitch as Israeli-Palestinian fighting has escalated to the use of F-16 warplane attacks, which Israel used Friday in retaliation for a suicide bombing. Violence in the past two days has killed 16 Palestinians and six Israelis, and wounded dozens on both sides.

Arafat said Israel's military escalation had created a "critical" situation with "enormous losses." He said Palestinian financial losses surpassed $5 billion. During the meeting of Arab League leaders, Moussa said Israel's policy "aims for the submission of Palestine."

"The resistance and the intefadeh will continue whatever the price may be," said Moussa, who became Arab League chief earlier this week after 10 years as Egypt's foreign minister. "We cannot, under any circumstances, accept an Israeli peace," he added.

The League meeting was the sixth of a committee appointed by an Arab summit in March to monitor the Palestinian uprising. The meeting had been scheduled for later this month, but Palestinians asked for it to be brought forward because of the escalating violence. On arriving at the League building, Arafat told reporters that Palestinians would not back down.

"We will not give in. We will go on, God willing, until we pray together" in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said, referring to the Islamic shrine in east Jerusalem where Palestinians aspire to create the capital of their future state.

The countries that attended the talks at the League's headquarters in Cairo were Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.

Problems? Suggestions? Let us hear from you. The Sacramento Bee

-- Swissrose (, May 19, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ