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More Countries Call for Emergency Arab Summit on Middle East Crisis

  • Leslie Boctor

There were more calls in Cairo Tuesday, for an Arab summit on the growing crisis in the region. But there is still disagreement among Arab leaders on how to respond to the crisis.

Officials of the Arab League met for the second time this week to address the violence between Israel and Hezbollah. Two more countries - Lebanon and Djibouti - voted in favor of an emergency Arab Summit, which now has the support of seven countries of the 22-member league.

Secretary-General Amr Moussa said if the proposal received a two-thirds majority vote, the League would proceed with a summit. Though the members have yet to reach agreement to hold a summit, Mr. Moussa said there is agreement that Israel's demands for the removal of Hezbollah from along Lebanon's border with Israel are unacceptable.

"Of course, we reject these conditions," Moussa said. "These are not even conditions. They are orders that are being dictated. We need to start with a common ground in order to solve the crisis. He said, we have to consider the interests of all parties involved, not just Israel's. We must consider the interests of Palestinian detainees. We need a package deal that suits everyone, not just one side."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said that Arab countries must reach an agreement on the purpose of the summit before it takes place.

The lack of support reflects the division in the Arab world over Hezbollah's actions. Earlier Tuesday Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the country had not yet decided if it would support the call for a summit. Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country to denounce Hezbollah's military operations on the Israeli border. It has referred to the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers, the issue that triggered the Israeli offensive, as an adventure that put all the whole region at risk.

Saudi Arabia's position on Hezbollah has sparked a heated debate in a region where most countries sympathize with resistance against Israel. Meanwhile, Syria, the only Arab country to openly support the military operations of Hezbollah, has also withheld its support of the summit, until it becomes clear exactly what would be discussed.

Despite these problems, Mr. Moussa said he remained hopeful that a summit of Arab League nations would get a two-thirds majority vote in the coming days.

In addition to Lebanon and Djibouti, the call for an emergency summit has the support of Algeria, Egypt, Qatar, Sudan and Yemen, which proposed the summit.

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