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Arab League to Hold Emergency Meeting On Mideast Violence - 2001-12-04


In the Mideast, Arab leaders are calling for an emergency meeting of the Arab League to discuss the Israeli strikes in Gaza and the West Bank. Jordan has called for an emergency ministerial meeting of the Arab League in response to the latest round of violence in the Middle East. The meeting is set to take place Sunday in Cairo.

Jordan is the current chair of the Arab League summit, which has formed a special ministerial committee to deal with Palestinian issues.

Abdel Moneim Said is the head of the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. He has said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has "disintegrated from a conflict about national rights into vindictiveness and revenge." In the process, he said Israel and the Palestinians have lost sight of their political goals.

"I think both sides, their political goals have been dropped out. What they talk about is revenge. They killed a Hamas leader. Hamas is responding harshly and Sharon, they kill the Israelis harshly, then he will double the number from the Palestinians or triple the number from the Palestinians. It's like a primitive society of vindictive people without any political goals to achieve," he said.

Hanan Ashrawi, a former aide to Yasser Arafat, is now the spokeswoman for the Arab League. She told VOA that Mr. Arafat, in the present circumstances in the Palestinian territories, cannot be expected to control the population.

"I don't believe anybody now can do anything internally in Palestine when the Palestinians are being besieged. How can Arafat now arrest and detain people in stations that are being shelled by the Israelis? How can he arrest people who, themselves, are being sought and assassinated by the Israelis? How can Arafat maintain any kind of credibility if he cannot protect his own people? He cannot even protect himself. What can he do?" she said.

Said Sadek Amin is a writer and public opinion analyst in Cairo. He has said if the Palestinian leader can't unify his own people, the violence will always continue. "The problem is that the Palestinian camp is not unified. You have the Palestinian authority, on the one hand, that wants peace, wants to negotiate, and you also have anti-peace groups, which will always sabotage the peace process. This is a problem because as long as Arafat cannot unify the Palestinian camp, with only one voice coming from the Palestinian side which is for peace, there will always be this problem," he said.

Late on Monday, Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Maher, telephoned U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to urge him to intensify U.S. efforts to end the violence.

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