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From davemull@alphalink.com.au Tue Sep 11 16:18:08 2001
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001 10:03:08 -0500 (CDT)
Organization: South Movement
From: Dave Muller <davemull@alphalink.com.au>
Subject: [southnews] Arab world meets to condemn Israel
Article: 125882
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Arab world meets to condemn Israel; Arab ministers are holding their bi-annual summit

By Heba Saleh, BBC, Sunday 9 September 2001; 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK

The ministers were urged by the Qatari foreign minister to move quickly to help the Palestinians but the meeting seems unlikely to advance beyond anti-Israeli rhetoric.

And expected talks between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves now look in doubt after a Palestinian official questioned their worth.

Speaking at the opening of the Cairo meeting, Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, said the UN had sent the wrong signal to Israel by failing to back calls for sending observers to the occupied territories.

He said there was a need for rapid and effective Arab action.

But as previous foreign minister meetings have demonstrated, the Arabs are only prepared for limited action.

They have given some financial aid to the Palestinians but otherwise they have concentrated their efforts on as yet unsuccessful calls for American pressure on Israel and for UN monitors.

Saudi Arabia has excluded using its massive weight as an oil producer to put pressure on the West, and no Arab state has the means or appetite for an armed confrontation with Israel.

Peace hopes fade

The expectation is that, like previous meetings since the eruption of the Palestinian uprising, this one will only produce rhetoric.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has dropped plans to attend because of other commitments.

There is much speculation that these are related to attempts to organise talks between he and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres.

However, the Palestinian planning minister, Nabil Shaath, said in Cairo that no place or time for such a meeting would be fixed until Mr Peres had a real mandate from the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

He said Mr Peres should come with a plan and be prepared to discuss political matters, including the implementation of the Mitchell report to end the violence.

But with the latest suicide bombing in Israel, chances for that can only be diminishing.