In a rare political statement, Egypt's First Lady Suzanne Mubarak Tuesday urged the international community to call for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. She spoke at a meeting organized by the National Council of Arab Women.

Surrounded by images of the devastation in Lebanon, Suzanne Mubarak made a passionate plea to end the violence in Lebanon and Gaza. Speaking at a meeting of the National Council of Arab Women, she said the war in Lebanon would breed feelings of bitterness and injustice for generations to come. She called on the international community to intervene before the crisis widened into a regional disaster.

"How can the conscience of the international community accept the destruction of basic infrastructure in an operation that is similar to collective punishment," she asked. "Life is dying in Lebanon, a nation that has always been a life-giving force. Rescue Lebanon, stretch open your arms to Lebanon. Bring an immediate ceasefire for the sake of victims and children who are traumatized by scenes of killing and destruction."

The meeting was organized as a show of solidarity of Arab women with their Lebanese sisters. It brought together people from academia, non-governmental agencies and youth groups to discuss the needs of Lebanese women and children and efforts to aid them. One participant, psychologist Amira Deib, stressed the importance of speaking the language of peace to the generations to come.

"We need to bring up our children so that they learn to love another, so that they learn generosity, and that they value peace and tolerance. We must teach them that they can have differences without conflict. But picking up arms must be a last resort. Then there would be hope that future generations would be more likely to call for peace, rather than war," she said.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak warned Monday that the entire Middle East peace process could collapse because of conflict in Lebanon. He called for an urgent international investigation into the Israeli attack on Qana, the Lebanese village where nearly 60 civilians were killed in an Israeli attack, and he blasted the United Nations for what he called "foot-dragging" and "impotence."

Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmad Abu al-Gheit, is shuttling between Syria and Saudi Arabia in efforts to defuse the crisis. Egyptian newspapers report the minister is trying to broker a deal under which Syria would cut its support for Hezbollah.