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Palestinian President Meets Egyptian Leaders


Angry demonstrators poured into the streets across the Arab world Sunday to denounce Israel's ongoing military operations in Gaza. In Egypt, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to discuss reviving a lapsed truce between Israel and the militant Hamas group.

His face somber and his voice grave, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on a visit to Cairo to meet top Egyptian leaders, urged the rival Hamas group to resume a lapsed truce with Israel to avert any further violence in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas insisted that he had begged the dissident Hamas leadership not to end the previous Egyptian-brokered truce, before the day-old Israeli military operation began, but without success.

Abbas, responding to criticism that he was not doing enough to stop the Israeli attack on Gaza, insisted that he and his Fatah group are doing everything possible to stop the bloodshed:

Mr. Abbas says that his government wants to protect Gaza and the Palestinian people who live there, and that the last thing he wants is a genocide for his people. He also denounces those who don't care if Gaza 'gets wiped out," as he puts it. This logic, he says, is not in the interest of our people, and every drop of blood, including that of Hamas people, must be protected.

Egypt has said it is willing to provide medical treatment to civilians wounded in the Israeli attacks, but Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters so far none have been taken across the border.

He says that the Egyptian government is waiting for the injured Palestinians to be allowed to enter Egypt from Gaza, but that the (Hamas) group, which controls Gaza on the ground, is not allowing them to enter.

Eyewitnesses say that dozens of ambulances have been waiting on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, as they wait for wounded to cross. The militant Hamas group, meanwhile, denied that it was preventing Palestinian casualties from entering Egypt.

Al Arabiya TV, however, reports that Hamas is demanding that Egypt allow food, fuel and other supplies to enter the Gaza Strip as a condition for allowing the wounded to be evacuated to Egypt.

President Abbas has condemned the Israeli military operation and said that his government is still talking to Hamas to restore order in Gaza and resume the lapsed truce with Israel:

He says that his government has had contacts with the leaders of Hamas in Gaza and spoken to them in very frank language, via several channels.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told U.S. television Sunday that Israel has are no plans to occupy Gaza. Speaking Sunday on Meet the Press, Livni says the Israeli assault was launched because Gaza's Hamas rulers were smuggling weapons and building up what she described as "a small army."

Later this week Arab foreign ministers and officials from the Gulf Cooperation Council are set to have separate meetings to discuss the crisis in Gaza.

Meanwhile, protests engulfed much of the Arab world Sunday. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, including many university students, protested in the Yemeni capital Sana'a, shouting "death to Israel," and denouncing Arab leaders for not acting to stop the violence, which has left about 300 Palestinians dead, some of them civilians.

In Beirut, pro-Hezbollah and pro-Syrian demonstrators threw stones at the Egyptian embassy as riot-police fired teargas to keep them away.

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