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Arabs Urge Intervention in Israel-Palestinian Standoff


Egypt and other Arab states are calling on the international community to intervene to end the Israeli siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters, launched by Israeli troops Thursday night following a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed six people.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher has telephoned U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell with a message from President Hosni Mubarak asking for immediate U-S intervention. Mr. Mubarak said Israel's actions threaten to create what he called an explosive situation.

The Saudi Press Agency reports Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz spoke twice with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, assuring him that the Saudi Kingdom stands on the side of the Palestinian people and their leaders in the face of what he described as "brutal aggression."

In Iran, the foreign ministry is demanding urgent intervention by the international community to put a stop to what it calls the "aggressions and crimes" of Israel. The foreign ministry describes Israel as the main threat and source of tension in the region.

Political analyst Walid Kazziha in Cairo says, although Mr. Arafat has become what he calls a liability to the Palestinian people, the latest Israeli actions will serve to bolster his sagging popularity.

"The Palestinian national movement is not a fortress you can destroy, or a building you can demolish," stressed Mr. Kazziha. "It is in the hearts and minds of people under occupation, and as long as there is that occupation and they have no state, it will continue as it has for a very long time."

Israel says its troops will not withdraw from the compound before wanted Palestinians inside surrender. But Arafat aides say the men will never be turned over.