Blast overshadows Arab summit

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 08:07:55 -0000

 Pro-Arafat demonstration in the Sabra Refugee camp in Beirut
Arafat has backing in Beirut - but can he satisfy the US?

Arab leaders are due to resume their summit in Beirut after an
acrimonious first day which threw into question the endorsement of a
Saudi Arabian peace initiative for the Middle East. 

At the summit, which has been marked by the absence of key players,
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah said the Arab world would offer Israel
normal relations if Israel pulled out of all Arab land it occupied in


What has been complicated and difficult, became more complicated and

US official 
But he added that Israel must also recognise a Palestinian state with
its capital in Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees. 

On Wednesday evening, the focus returned to violence on the ground, as a
Palestinian suicide bomber killed at least 19 Israelis at a hotel in

At least another 73 people were wounded, 26 seriously, in the hotel
dining room at a Seder dinner, marking the start of the Jewish Passover

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemned the bombing, which was
claimed by the militant group Hamas, and ordered the arrest of four key
militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 

"We will deal severely with the party which claims [responsibility] and
take all the necessary measures to bring those responsible to justice,"
said a Palestinian spokesman. 


US President George W Bush said Mr Arafat and other senior Palestinian
leaders should "do everything in their power to stop the terrorist

 Palestinian soldier watching Arafat on TV

Arafat's TV link was blocked on Wednesday

The Netanya attack has seriously worsened US envoy's Anthony Zinni's
chances of bridging the gap between the Israelis and Palestinians far
enough to create conditions for a ceasefire. 

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Mr Zinni would continue his
Middle East mission for the time being. 

Israeli Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met with army commanders
early Thursday to weigh a possible Israeli response, according to
reports from Jerusalem. 

Arafat link 

Mr Arafat has been unable to attend the Arab League summit, because the
Israelis have refused to let him leave the West Bank unless he declares
a ceasefire. 

 Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Abdullah's proposals have been welcomed

  <>         Saudi proposals 

Israel must:

*       Withdraw from land seized in 1967: the West Bank, Gaza, East
Jerusalem and the Golan Heights

*       Agree right of return for Palestinian refugees

*       Accept independent Palestine with Jerusalem as capital 

Arab states will:

*       Consider Arab-Israeli conflict over

*       Agree peace treaty for region

*       Establish normal relations with Israel 

See also:
14.stm> Peace plan in detail 
93.stm> Prince behind the proposals 

On Thursday a recorded speech of Mr Arafat's is due to be played to the

On Wednesday, Lebanon blocked a live satellite link and the Palestinian
delegation at the summit walked out in protest. 

Following lengthy negotiations, the Palestinians later agreed they would
rejoin the summit on Thursday after assurances that a recording of Mr
Arafat's speech would be transmitted. 

In spite of the disagreements, Mr Arafat, welcomed the Saudi plan,
describing it as courageous. 

"We hope that it becomes a group Arab initiative in favour of the peace
of the brave," he said speaking on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television

President Bush considered the proposals "a positive step forward to
bringing peace to the region", a White House spokeswoman said. 

But correspondents say even if the delegates endorse the Saudi proposal,
it will carry little weight with the absence of the key Arab leaders,
such as the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king. 

 Yasser Arafat
Arab leaders say Yasser Arafat has been humiliated

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told reporters in Cairo that he had
made a sudden decision to stay away to show solidarity with Mr Arafat. 

The US relies on Egypt and Jordan - both of which have signed peace
treaties with Israel - to have a moderating influence on other Arab

Jordan's King Abdullah II decided not to attend the summit at the last
minute without giving a reason. 

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to the summit to
throw its weight behind the initiative and urged the Israeli and
Palestinian leaders to renounce violence.

Source: BBC online

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