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Monday, 1 April, 2002, 19:22 GMT 20:22 UK
Arabs pressed to act over Israel
Jordanian schoolgirls shout slogans under banners in Amman on Monday, April 1, 2002
There have been many anti-Israeli protests in Jordan
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By the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Amman

Arab countries are considering convening an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo this week, to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

The secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, has said he is focusing on ways to enforce the UN resolution which calls for Israel's immediate withdrawal from Palestinian towns.

There has been a strong condemnation in the Arab world for the Israeli attacks against the compound of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Jordan has threatened to take unspecified measures if the Israeli attacks do not stop.

Anger against Israel

Despite a ban on demonstrations imposed last year, angry protesters have taken to the streets in Jordan for the fourth consecutive day. They chanted "Death to Israel!" and burned Israeli flags.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister at the Arab League summit last week
The Arab League summit in Beirut only ended last week
In Amman, hundreds of students were confronted by riot police who prevented them from leaving their university campus, and just north of Amman, in Zarqa, thousands of demonstrators also called on Jordan to cut its ties with Israel.

Sentiments are boiling in Jordan, where more than 60% of the population is of Palestinian origin, and many people still have family in the Palestinian territories.

This is the first time that Jordan has come under so much popular pressure because of its ties with Israel since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1994.

In October 2000, Jordan decided not to replace its ambassador in Israel to protest against the Israeli-Palestinian violence.

On Sunday, Jordan's foreign minister summoned Israel's ambassador and warned him that Jordan would take measures in its ties with Israel if the Israeli army did not withdraw from Palestinian towns immediately.

But it is unlikely that Jordan, an ally of the United States, will sever its ties with Israel. It could, however, further downgrade Jordan's representation in Israel and declare the Israeli ambassador in Jordan persona non grata.

But Jordanian officials believe that keeping ties with Israel might help in influencing Israel to make peace with the Palestinians.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
"Israelis have reached a position of almost complete despair"
See also:

01 Apr 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Palestinian support demos
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arab League summit in quotes
21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Quick guide: Arab League
04 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Timeline: Arab League
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