Mubarak, Assad End Meeting with Call on World to Stop Israel Attacks on Palestinians
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Sunday urged the international community to put an immediate stop to Israel's devastating attacks on the Palestinians, the official SANA news agency reported.
"The dangerous situation created by the Israeli attacks on the unarmed Palestinian people constitutes a threat against the people of the region and the efforts to establish a just and comprehensive peace," SANA quoted the two leaders as saying at a meeting in Damascus, as cited by AFP.
Israel has launched air and ground strikes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past week in response to suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa that killed 26 civilians on December 1 and 2.
Mubarak and Assad demanded that the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations "assume their responsibilities and put an immediate end to the attacks, assassinations and destruction inflicted on Palestinians in the occupied territories."
The two leaders rejected "Israel's allegation that it acts to defend itself" from Palestinian attacks as well as Israel's attempts to link the Palestinian uprising to the US-led war on terror, SANA added.
Assad and Mubarak designated their respective foreign ministers, Farouq Al Shara and Ahmed Maher, to "advance resolutions rejecting Israeli aggression" at Monday's ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Doha, convened especially to discuss the latest bloodshed.
The two Arab leaders also "stressed the importance of a solid and unified Arab position to preserve the Arab nation's legitimate interests."
Both Egypt and Syria insist on an Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands occupied in the 1967 Middle East war as the key to peace in the region, but they differ on the ongoing intifada, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Damascus supports a continuation of the Intifada, whereas Cairo has called for the Palestinians and Israel to consolidate a ceasefire to allow for a resumption of peace negotiations, said AFP.
State radio said Mubarak flew in from Cairo and went straight into talks, after being greeted at the airport by Assad and vice presidents Abdel Halim Khaddam and Zuheir Masharka, said AFP.
The summit follows a decision by the Arab League to put off an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers, originally scheduled for Sunday in the Qatari capital, Doha.
The meeting has been indefinitely delayed, “to give a chance to US efforts to bring the crisis under control,” a diplomat involved in the meeting told The Associated Press.
However, the urgent meeting has been scaled down to consultative meeting of league foreign ministers to take place Monday in Doha.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said in a statement published in Egyptian newspapers Saturday that the league would convene a consultative meeting on the sidelines of the OIC meeting. Consultative meetings do not have decision-making powers in league procedure.
Ahmed Maher said the meeting was not postponed because of disagreement, but for procedural mistakes.
He said Arab foreign minister meetings should be held at the league's headquarters in Cairo.
The Palestinian representative to the Arab League, Mohammed Sobeih, said the Palestinians had hoped an emergency meeting of the league would strongly endorse Arafat as the only legitimate leader of the Palestinian people.
"(The Arab ministers) should also defend the Palestinian Authority against any attempt to undermine its position and legitimacy," he told the AP.
Last week, Jordan called for a meeting of the 10 league ministers on the committee to support the Palestinians. However, Syria proposed a full meeting to allow all Arab governments to deal with the Israeli aggression and threats against the Palestinians.
Earlier this week, Mubarak sent Maher to Israel and the Palestinian territories in a bid to defuse tensions between the two sides, but Maher returned home describing his mission as a failure.
Egypt has played a pivotal role in international efforts to end the 14-month-old Palestinian Intifada, or uprising against 34 years of Israeli occupation -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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