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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 13:31 GMT
Outrage at Israeli strikes
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat embraces the Saudi foreign minister
Arabs say Israel's agression will lead to more violence
The leaders of both Arab and non-Arab states have angrily condemned Israel's missile strikes on Palestinian targets, deeming them "excessive and unjustified".

The leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen discussed the attacks by telephone and unanimously denounced them, Yemen's official news agency reported, citing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine
Hubert Vedrine: Israel's strategy is wrong
"The Israeli aggression will lead to dangerous consequences and more violence in the region," warned President Saleh, as Israeli helicopter gunships continued to blast targets in the West Bank and Gaza.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, whose country is one of few Gulf states with diplomatic and economic ties with Israel, urged the international community "to work to stop Israeli attacks on the defenceless Palestinian people".

Jordan has called for an emergency Arab ministers' meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the escalation.

And the Turkish prime minister strongly condemned the country's hardline prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

"Sharon is determined to implement very excessive, unjust measures against the Palestinian authority and soil," Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told reporters.

"If this turns into an actual war, it may lead to a situation that could be more dangerous than the one in Afghanistan."

Turkey, a mainly Muslim and strictly secular non-Arab country, has been Israel's chief regional ally since 1996, much to the anger of most Arab nations.


Israel launched the strikes in response to the deaths of 25 people in Palestinian suicide attacks at the weekend.

On Tuesday at least two Palestinians were killed in the retaliatory strikes and more than 100 wounded, hospital sources said.

US bombing campaign of Afghanistan
The US is fighting its own war against terror
The president of the 15-member European Union called for a halt to hostilities from both sides.

"The attacks in Israel must cease and the reprisals must cease, said Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency.

"These military and violent actions have reached the limit."

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in Paris that Israel had adopted the wrong strategy with its attacks on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters.

"Everything must be done to stop the kamikaze bloodshed and the terrorism. But to take on the Palestinian Authority, to weaken it, or even to eliminate it, would be a fatal error," he said.

But the United States, currently fighting its own war in Afghanistan, has made clear it will not try to rein Israel in.

"Israel is a sovereign power," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, denying that President George W Bush had given the green light to the Israeli air strikes.

"Israel has a right to defend itself," he said.

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See also:

04 Dec 01 | Media reports
03 Dec 01 | Middle East
03 Dec 01 | Media reports
03 Dec 01 | Middle East
02 Dec 01 | Middle East
04 Dec 01 | Middle East
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