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Arab League Calls on UN to Halt Israel Siege of Arafat HQ - 2002-09-23

Arab states are demanding the United Nations pressure Israel to end its five-day siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters. The demand follows an Arab League emergency meeting in Cairo.

A document approved by the 22-member Arab League, calls for the United Nations and Secretary General Kofi Annan to step in immediately to stop the Israeli action.

The Arab League also asked the U.N. Security Council to compel Israel to withdraw its troops from the Palestinian leadership compound in Ramallah. The Arab League said the Israeli siege in the occupied territories amounts to a plot by Israel to destroy the Palestinian national authority and put an end to the peace process.

The emergency meeting follows intensive contacts with Western capitals, including Washington, by Arab League members.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Sunday only the United States could exert enough pressure on Israel to end the siege that began Thursday. Egyptian President Mubarak sent a message to President Bush asking for immediate intervention.