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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Arafat aide chides Arab leaders
Palestinian woman/Israeli tanks in Ramallah
Shaath: Arab nations have "duty" to pressurise Israel
Palestinian cabinet minister Nabil Shaath has sharply criticised Arab governments for failing to do more to help the Palestinians.


The Arabs must back the [Palestinian] resistance by all the means at their disposal - it is their responsibility and duty

Nabil Shaath

"The protests and indignation that swept the Arab street are not enough to push back the Israeli aggression," Mr Shaath told the Jordanian newspaper Al Arab Al Yawm from Cairo.

"The Arab pressure cards have not been used so far. What are the Arabs waiting for? Are they waiting for us all to perish?"

Arab commentators have accused US President George W Bush of showing further bias towards Israel by welcoming assurances of a troop withdrawal from some West Bank towns within days. Earlier, Mr Bush insisted on an immediate withdrawal.

'Responsibility'

The BBC's David Bamford in Cairo says Arab official reaction to Israeli military action has been largely limited to rhetoric, with one exception being the Iraqi oil export suspension - a largely symbolic gesture.

Palestinian cabinet minister Nabil Shaath
Shaath: Support offered so far by Arab nations is inadequate

Mr Shaath said this was not enough.

"The Arabs must back the (Palestinian) resistance by all the means at their disposal. It is their responsibility and duty," he said.

He also said that Arab nations were able to take various "political, military, economic, financial and social" measures to "embarrass" both Israel and its staunchest ally, the US.

But so far, he said, there had only been limited financial support for the Palestinian Authority, which was inadequate for a people suffering under occupation.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab states which have full diplomatic ties with Israel.

See also:

16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell hails progress in Mid-East talks
15 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell: Arafat not needed at talks
15 Apr 02 | Middle East
Jenin camp situation 'horrendous'
15 Apr 02 | Americas
Thousands in US rally for Israel
05 Apr 02 | Middle East
Anti-Israeli anger sweeps Arab world
03 Apr 02 | Middle East
Egypt scales down Israel contacts
30 Jul 01 | profiles
Fatah: Cornerstone of Arafat's power
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