Arab League condemns violence in Lebanon, calls on Israel to end Gaza blockade

January 28, 2008

Arab League foreign ministers yesterday expressed deep concern over the ongoing violence in Lebanon and urged the Lebanese parties to exercise self-restraint and seek unity. They also called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza.

The ministers issued a statement yesterday after holding an extraordinary meeting in Cairo to discuss the situations in Lebanon and Gaza. Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal led the Saudi delegation to the meeting.

On Lebanon, the ministers strongly condemned the assassinations and bombings that are targeting the Lebanese security apparatus with the goal of destabilizing the country.

They unanimously supported an Arab League initiative to end the political crisis in that calls for electing Lebanon Army Chief Michel Suleiman as president on February 11, 2008, forming a national unity government and establishing a new electoral law.

The ministers also agreed that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa would try to help the Lebanese parties reach a solution.

Regarding the Palestinian situation, the ministers called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza immediately and allow the free flow of people and goods. They rejected Israeli assertions that it is no longer responsible for Gaza after withdrawing from the territory, and urged Israel to take legal and humanitarian responsibility for the Palestinians in line with international law.

The Arab foreign ministers said Gaza should be considered a disaster zone and called on the international community to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. They also urged Arab countries in particular to extend aid to the Palestinians in coordination with Egypt.

They also supported Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s invitation to the Palestinian parties to resume dialogue.