1996 News Story

Arab foreign ministers meet in Cairo

The foreign ministers of the League of Arab States yesterday held an extraordinary emergency meeting called by Lebanon in response to six days of attacks on Lebanese territory by Israeli forces.   The Saudi delegation was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

Shortly before the meeting began, Egyptian foreign minister Amr Mousa said:  “What’s happening in Lebanon now is a threat to the peace process.  We support whatever the Lebanese government wants.”   Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shara added:  “This attack, which targets innocent civilians and economic installations, shows that Israel does not want stable and united Arab countries.   It does not wish its neighbors well.”

At the meeting, Lebanese foreign minister Fares Boweiz submitted a detailed report on the Israeli aggression which has caused severe damage all over Lebanon.  Israeli warplanes and artillery have killed at least 31 civilians, and wounded 143.    He declared that peace on the Israeli-Lebanese border depends on a firm Israeli commitment to leave Lebanon, saying:  “When Israel promises, in a way that is definitive, unequivocal, and final, to withdraw completely from Lebanese territory, only then will Lebanon say that this is a safe border.   We will not surrender.  Our national unity has never been stronger.   The world has portrayed it as a conflict between Israel and terrorism.  The reality is very different.   Not one person from the Lebanese resistance has been killed.  All the victims have been civilians.   The operation had a clear target based on the elections in Israel.  The Israeli Prime Minister needs victory.   It will make him not just a politician but a military leader as well.”

Foreign minister Boweiz asked the Arab foreign ministers for “a resolution providing all possible means to support the steadfastness of the Lebanese people and the formation of a committee to follow the situation and work towards an immediate cease fire.”   He said the ministers should also affirm the principles of the Middle East peace process launched in Madrid in 1991, a reference to the principle of Israel giving back Arab land in exchange for peace with its neighbors.

Arab League Secretary General Ismat Abdulmajeed stated that Israel clearly had a hidden agenda which included depopulating southern Lebanon and preventing a return to normal life there, saying:  “The Israeli practices we see are clear proof of extreme contempt for all international norms and laws.  It is clear that election campaign considerations have affected the strategic options of peace.’