C A I R O, Egypt, Oct. 21 - Searching for a unified stance toward Israel
amid mounting Israeli-Palestinian violence, leaders attending the first
Arab League summit in four years declared solidarity with Palestinians and
denounced what it called Israeli "barbarism."
In a draft statement released at the close of today's sessions, the
league also demanded a war crimes tribunal to try Israelis responsible for
"massacres" in the region. The statement also said Arab nations would halt
further normalization of ties with Israel and suspend Arab participation
in multilateral talks on regional economic cooperation.
The statement showed that moderate Arab leaders such as Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak had prevailed so far at the two-day summit, which
drew 15 heads of state from the Arab League's 22 members.
A few of the more hard-line countries had wanted to sever all
diplomatic ties with Israel, officially condemn it, and threaten to use
"the oil weapon,"such as reducing oil exports to the world market, to
achieve their goals.
Frustrated with the "passive" tone of the statement, the Libyan
delegates walked out in protest. Other countries including Yemen and Iraq
had also pushed for more aggressive action.
"While our Palestinian brethren are still dying everyday, and Arab
public opinion is still enraged by the Israeli activities, the Arab
leadership is passive and quiet," a Libyan statement said.
Libya's walkout came as no surprise since Libyan leader Moammar
Gadhafi had appeared on a popular Arab television station before the
meeting to ridicule the summit, saying it would fail to adequately respond
Mubarak opened the summit today, a day after efforts to bring calm were
shattered by one of the worst days of violence in the West Bank since
fighting erupted Sept. 28.
In response to Friday's violence, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
said he would call an open-ended "timeout" after the Arab summit to
rethink Israeli policy concerning the peace talks. Israel was watching the
summit closely for signs of how the Palestinians might proceed once they
receive the backing of fellow Arabs.
In his opening address, Mubarak denounced what he called Israel's
belligerent attitude towards the Palestinians, but said the Arabs had a
historic duty "to attempt once again to salvage the peace process."
The Egyptian president acknowledged that all Arabs were "angry and
full of resentment" after three weeks of Israeli-Palestinian clashes in
which 119 people - all but eight of them Arabs - have been killed, but he
warned against "indulging in sensational attitudes."
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said his people were facing "the
worst kinds of mass killings, shelling, in addition to severe siege."
Still, he said, "Our choice is the choice of permanent, just and
A grave-looking Mubarak called on Israel to prove that it, too,
Some Arab governments are worried by the militant public sympathy
with the Palestinians in their own streets. The Egyptian leader, a key
player in peacemaking, has dismissed war talk by the leaders of Yemen,
Libya and Iraq.
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah called on Arab leaders to donate $1
billion to support the Intifada (uprising), as the latest Palestinian
unrest is being described, and fund projects to stress the Arab and Muslim
character of Jerusalem. Saudi Arabia would contribute 25 percent of the
money, he said.
Palestinian Teenager Killed
Adding to building resentment in many Arab countries was the death of a
15-year-old Palestinian boy. Omar Al-Deheisi died of wounds sustained from
fighting between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters near the
Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom in the Gaza strip today, hospital
Two more Palestinians were killed today and more than 100 people have
been injured in the new violence that erupted Friday after a deadline to
end the fighting negotiated by President Clinton expired in a wave of
The most serious fighting today was around the Jewish settlement bloc
of Gush Katif near Khan Younis in the middle of the densely populated
coastal strip, where Palestinians hurled stones and petrol bombs at
Israeli soldiers in a fortified bunker.
The Israeli army said Palestinian snipers fired on soldiers and the
troops returned the fire.
Israel said its soldiers killed an Arab guerrilla on the border with
Lebanon after an overnight exchange of gunfire with suspected Hezbollah
guerrillas on an apparent infiltration mission. Hezbollah denied
involvement in the clash.
Led by masked gunmen in some places, large crowds were marching in
funeral processions in Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah in the West Bank for
Palestinians killed in widespread clashes on Friday, when nine were shot
dead. In the past such funerals have been the flashpoints for new
Day of Rage
Palestinian activists have called for two "days of rage" during the Arab
summit but urged mourners not to fire guns in the air during the funerals,
which often become the starting point for fresh clashes.
Highlighting anger at what they see as the inaction of Arab leaders,
demonstrators in Hebron burned pictures of Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah
and Saudi Arabian King Fahd.
In Nablus, some of the mourners chanted slogans accusing Mubarak of
being a coward and an American agent.
Israeli officials said they expected the Palestinians to keep the
violence going during the summit to toughen the Arab line and maximize
Clinton Calls For Calm
President Clinton telephoned Arafat on Friday and again urged him to do
everything he could to stop the violence.
"Arafat said he remained committed to doing everything he can to
restore calm and implement the measures that we agreed to in Sharm
el-Sheikh," White House spokesman Jake Siewert said.
Barak, under strong domestic fire over the failure of his peace
policy, said Friday he would suspend Middle East peace talks after the
"[After] the summit in Cairo we will take a time-out in order to
reassess the peace process, and will also guide the army on the steps we
need to take," he said in a television interview. He said he had informed
Clinton of his intentions.
Negotiations have been stuck since Barak, Arafat and Clinton failed
to clinch a deal at a summit at Camp David near Washington in July.
Speaking in Cairo before the summit opened, Arafat appeared to react
to Barak's talk of a change in military policy.
"This is not a threat. This haughty statement is intended to be
addressed to all leaders of the Arab nation. We are capable of coping with
this. The Arab nation's children are more powerful than all statements,"
U.N. Passes Resolution
Hours before the summit began under heavy security, the United Nations
General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution condemning Israel for
"excessive force" against Palestinian civilians and illegal violence by
Jewish settlers during the latest flare-up.
Ninety-two countries voted in favor, six against and 46 abstained in
Friday night's vote on a resolution drawn up by Palestinian delegates and
sponsored by Arab and Islamic states and Cuba. Israel dismissed the motion
as "completely one-sided."
U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said the action will "undermine
peace efforts." He said it was a mistake to pass the resolution "in the
middle of a world crisis."
Since the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement, Israel has lifted some
blockades, eased border restrictions and reopened the international
airport in the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip.
But it has not yet withdrawn all its troops and tanks from key
flashpoints, saying it is waiting for the Palestinians to stop attacking
ABC Radio's Nathan Thomas, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to
Arafat to Forbid Use of Firearms
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will order Palestinian police to
prevent use of firearms against Israeli troops during protests after
this weekend's Arab summit, senior Palestinian officials said today.
The sources, who insisted on anonymity, said the new orders,
expected to be issued on Sunday night, would reduce the level of
clashes while continuing Intifada (uprising) demonstrations.
One senior official said Arafat had indirectly approved the
outburst of street protests by his Fatah faction.
"It is a Fatah revolution, if one can call it that, so Arafat
has control so far. Arafat has sent a clear message to the world
through his people. I believe after the Arab summit the Palestinian
police will assert control," he said.
"The police will see to it that no Palestinian will use any
kinds of firearms in protests. They can demonstrate peacefully as
much as they like, but we will not tolerate the use of arms."
Palestinian police have so far refrained from containing
demonstrations and have at times fired at Israeli troops in what
thay say are attempts to defend unarmed civilians.
Marwan Barghouthi, one of Fatah's key field leaders in the West
Bank, said popular protests would continue parallel to peace talks
to tilt the balance of power.
Back to Dark Savant Ministries