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Arab League Calls for UN Security Council Emergency Meeting

Members of the Arab League Saturday called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council as they considered ways to respond effectively to the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile, protesters gathering outside the League's headquarters called for resolutions of their own.

Police in riot gear surrounded a crowd of people who called for an attack on the Israeli Embassy here and for Israeli's to go home. Inside representatives of the 22-member Arab League laid out 12 initiatives to help end the violence in the region.

In a document released after the meeting, the organization said that since Israel is not responding to any overtures for peace or intervention, the whole matter will be taken by the Arab Foreign Minister's Council to the United Nations Security Council to force compliance with previous peace plans.

In addition, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, made it clear the league will no longer tolerate such bias as that of the United States, towards Israel. He said, "We cannot accept the bias towards Israel that has encouraged the Israeli military and political establishment to do what they are doing believing they are under protection and have a green light to destroy and kill and, in fact, put an end to the process of peace."

Other initiatives sought to expedite financial assistance to Palestinians agreed upon at the recent Beirut Summit and the consideration of any Israeli aggression against Syria and Lebanon as acts of violence against all Arab countries. The document also said if the international community continues to allow Israel to call its incursion into Palestinian territories anti-terrorism, Arab countries will have to reconsider their support for the international war on terrorism.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to arrive in the region this week to intervene in the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the opening session of Saturday's meeting, Nabil Shaath, Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, called on Arab states to not meet him with unless he first meets with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to discuss the situation. However, Mr. Moussa said, Mr. Powell has not yet made a decision on this matter.

Palestinian-American Jumana Bishara protested outside today's meeting with hope that those inside would be listening. "I think what we expect but never get from the Arab governments is a unified position on any issue," he said.

This was supposed to be a meeting of foreign ministers of Arab States. But less then half of the foreign ministers showed up Saturday. Lower level representatives, or the current representatives to the Arab League attended instead.