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Arab foreign ministers review state of Mideast peace

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October 19, 2000 


CAIRO (AP) - Arabs who blame Israel for the flare-up in violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories are now waiting to see whether the Jewish state follows its cease-fire promise with action, Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said Wednesday.

"It all depends on the implementation, since Israel's implementation record is very weak, this stage is very critical, " Moussa said, adding international pressure "may push the Israelis to implement."

Moussa spoke as Arab foreign ministers filed into Cairo to prepare for an Arab summit on Saturday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had called Arab heads of states to Cairo following clashes between Israelis and the Palestinians that killed more than 100 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, over the past three weeks.

Mubarak also hosted a summit of Israeli and Palestinian leaders at his Sharm el-Sheik retreat that ended Tuesday with a fragile agreement to end the fighting. He was to brief fellow Arabs on that summit, Moussa said.

Mubarak, whose country in 1979 became the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel, has fought to hold a moderate line, saying negotiations are the only way to resolve the regional crisis.

But some Arab leaders headed to Cairo are impatient. Lebanon's Salim Hoss told reporters before leaving for Cairo from his capital that he would propose that any Arabs with diplomatic ties with Israel suspend them and that an Arab boycott of Israel resume "on the widest scale until a just and comprehensive settlement is achieved on all tracks."

A sharp rebuke of Israel was likely to emerge from the summit, but moderates like Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah were expected to ward off drastic steps.

Libyan leader Moamar Gadhafi told al Jazeera Television, one of the most-watched Arab satellite channels, on Tuesday night that the emergency Arab summit would do nothing to help the Palestinian people.

He waved what he said was a draft of the summit's final resolution, scoffing that it took up economic issues such as a common Arab market along with the pressing issue of the Israeli-Palestinian violence.

"People are rebelling in the streets and we are talking about the common Arab market," said Gadhafi.

This will be the first Arab summit to be held since 1996 when former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power. Regional rivalries have derailed previous attempts to bring Arab leaders together.

It was not yet clear how many of the 22 league members would send representatives. It was not yet clear how many Arab leaders would attend. Two of the most radical - Gadhafi and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein - were expected to send only deputies.

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