Arafat Appeals for International Observers, Arab Financial Aid
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Monday exhorted the international community to swiftly send observers to help consolidate the shaky ceasefire with Israel, saying the situation is extremely dangerous, according to AFP.
Arafat also urged the Arab countries to draw up a comprehensive financial aid scheme to help offset the human and material cost of the Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israel.
The Palestinian president was addressing an Arab ministerial committee meeting convened in Amman to review political and financial support for the Palestinians.
"The situation now is dangerous, very dangerous and international efforts must be deployed to end the crisis," Arafat told the meeting.
"It is now necessary to send, without delay, international observers to consolidate the ceasefire," he said before going into private talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
Arafat accused Israel of maintaining a crippling blockade on Palestinian territories and escalating its military action as part of efforts "to bring the Palestinian people to their knees."
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and "his herds of settlers" should evacuate all occupied Palestinian territory "if they want peace and security", Arafat said.
"We hope that this meeting will take decisive decisions to support the resistance of the Palestinian people in the face of the Israeli aggression," Arafat said.
Putting the Palestinian casualty toll over the past nine months to "more than 700 martyrs and more than 29,000 injured", Arafat said the Israeli blockade of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was sapping all resources.
"I am sure that the Arab nation will not be stingy with our people ... the level of unemployment has reached 80 percent in Gaza and 60 percent in the West Bank," with total losses at over 4.5 billion dollars, he said.
"We urge our Arab brothers to draw up a comprehensive Arab program to support the resistance of the Palestinian people on the official and public level," Arafat said.
The ministerial committee was set up by the October summit of Arab leaders in Cairo to follow up on support pledged for the Palestinian uprising against Israel, which erupted on September 28.
The Arab follow-up committee groups the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine and the Arab League secretary general.
The ministers are also scheduled to discuss the current situation in the Arab region, solidarity among Arab countries in the face of Israel's continued aggression, as well as aid to the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, said the official news agency, Petra.
In addition, they will review the political situations in Somalia, the Comoro Islands, the Sudanese question and Iraq.
This is the second meeting by the committee, which held its first session in Cairo following the Cairo summit.
At their last meeting in Cairo on May 19, the committee called on Arab states to suspend all political contacts with Israel as long as its "aggression and blockade" against the Palestinian territories continued.
The committee is also expected to review financial contributions to the Jerusalem and Al Aqsa funds, which were set up by Arab countries to support the uprising, said Petra.
The situations in Iraq and Sudan will be discussed by the foreign ministers, and Moussa said on Saturday that Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail had also been invited to the meeting – Albawaba.com
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