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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Crisis in Palestine Arab ministers urge action against Israel

From Mohammed Osman Our Deputy Editor in Cairo Arab states called yesterday for full Palestinian sovereignty over east Jerusalem and rupture of all ties with Israel, amid preparations for an emergency Arab summit which begins tomorrow. Meeting at the Cairo's International Conference Hall, Arab foreign ministers addressed key issues, among them refraining from participating in peace talks, enhancing Arab cooperation and establishing a mechanism for regular Arab summits.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mousa, addressing the morning session, focused on two main issues, the serious situation in the occupied Arab territories and Arab relations. "The bloody events in the occupied lands and its surroundings reaffirm the danger and the sensitivity of the situation", he said.

"On the Palestinian track there is Israeli aggression and a deterioration of the peace process while the Syrian track is frozen and there is tension on the Lebanese track," Mousa said.

The Egyptian minister recalled that the last Arab summit in 1996 had declared its support for peace as the "strategic choice," but stressed that peace should be "based on law and justice."

"It's necessary to encourage the abilities and efforts of Arabs at all levels to support the Palestinian people and the Syrian position," he said.

Mousa called on the meeting to submit to the leaders, during their summit, a comprehensive plan to achieve these objectives.

Referring to Al Quds issue, he said that the city was the theatre for "a sparkle of evil that unleashed strong feelings of anger among all walks of life in the Arab and Islamic world. It also represented a provocative show of power and an attempt to turn the sacred places into an arena for political bargains. The result was over 100 Palestinian martyrs," he said.

Arab League Secretary-General Dr Esmat Abdel-Meguid, addressing the meeting, hailed the Palestinian people and the leadership for their struggle against the Israeli occupation.

Meguid reviewed the League's efforts in supporting the Palesti-nian and Lebanese causes and the call for the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate and try Israeli officials and demand necessary compensation for the recent killings of the Palestinians.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 20, 2000


Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK

Syria wants Arab-Israel ties cut

Syria has called for an end to normalisation of relations with Israel. The demand comes at the start of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the crisis in the Middle East.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara urged Arab states to end all ties with Israel.

Handshakes between Arabs and Israelis amount to a means of pressure by Israel on Arab parties Faruq al-Shara, Syrian Foreign Minister

Mr Shara said he "totally supported" the demands of both Faruq al- Qaddumi, a top Palestinian official, and Lebanon's Prime Minister Salim who have called for a break in Arab-Israeli relations.

Emergency summit

The foreign ministers are preparing for an emergency Arab summit on Saturday.

This will be the first such summit since 1996 and the first to which all Arab countries have been invited for a decade.

The meeting of foreign ministers comes at a critical time.

Israelis and Palestinians are taking tentative steps to implement the ceasefire agreement they reached in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el- Sheikh on Tuesday.

Sharm el-Sheikh sellout

Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara wants to cut Arab links with Israel

The foreign ministers began their meeting with something on which they could all agree, a minute's silence for the Palestinian dead.

The ministers must reach some kind of consensus - despite their widely differing views - over how to respond to the violent events of the past three weeks.

Syria has called for a strong Arab stand, even after the Sharm el- Sheikh agreement, which many Arabs see as a sell-out to Israel.

The Syrian foreign minister, Faruq al-Shara, said Arab countries' relations with Israel had been used against their interests.

Handshake ban

"Any ties with Israel and any handshakes between Arabs and Israelis amount to a means of pressure by Israel on Arab parties," he said.

Egypt, the host country for the summit, which signed the Arab world's first peace treaty with Israel, continues to play a key role mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

Disturbances are continuing, despite the truce deal

Yet the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amr Mussa, called for the Palestinians to have complete sovereignty over east Jerusalem.

"There is no alternative to a return of east Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty," Mr Mussa said.

Calm words

However, the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak struck a conciliatory note.

Speaking on state television he said Arab leaders would try to restart peacemaking with Israel, rather than heed calls by Arab demonstrators for war.

"A declaration of war is not a game," Mr Mubarak said. "The concept of war is an ancient one. Issues are only resolved through negotiations and international pressure."

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel.

A few others have low-level economic ties with the Jewish state. 6.stm

-- Martin Thompson (, October 20, 2000.

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