Israeli Crackdown Unites Hard-Liners,
Moderates in Muslim World
Published: Apr 24, 2001
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -
Calls for holy war against Israel reverberated Tuesday at a conference in Tehran, where
Islamic militants were joined by delegates from Muslim nations who until now had eschewed
calls for confrontation with Israel.
The two-day conference
opened in the Iranian capital amid growing anger in the Arab world against Israel over
escalating violence in the Middle East.
In Egypt, President Hosni
Mubarak, often viewed as a voice of moderation but sounding increasingly frustrated since
hard-liner Ariel Sharon became Israeli prime minister, blamed Israel for the increasing
behavior carries within itself dangerous risks to all the peoples of the region, including
the Israeli people, and threatens the stability and security of the region because
violence will only breed more violence," Mubarak said in a nationally televised
speech Tuesday on the holiday marking the return of war-lost territory to Egypt under the
1979 peace treaty with Israel.
In Lebanon, about 50
Palestinians staged a sit-in Tuesday to mark the start of the Tehran conference, burning
effigies of Sharon and President Bush outside the entrance to the Ein el-Hilweh refugee
At the Tehran conference,
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, warned Israel to
expect attacks from Palestinian extremists.
"The fully armed
Zionist military should wait for surprise attacks by Palestinian resistance groups,"
Nasrallah said to applause. "Victory belongs to us."
Hezbollah, which is
backed by Iran and Syria, led the military effort to drive Israel out of southern Lebanon
last May after an 18-year occupation and has continued attacks on Israel since.
"The only option is
jihad," or holy war, Abdullah Ramadan Shalah, head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,
told conference participants.
must unite against Israel and force it to recognize the rights of Palestinians," he
said. Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian group Hamas, which also attended the conference,
have conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks.
Among those attending was
well-known Palestinian guerrilla Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine, who in 1969 hijacked a TWA plane to Damascus and was captured
while trying to hijack an El Al flight from Amsterdam to New York on Sept. 6, 1970. She
was released in Britain in exchange for more than 300 passengers who had been hijacked in
American, British and Swiss airlines and taken to the Middle East, an episode that touched
off the 1970 Black September war between Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization
Israel has been shaken by
a series of bombings, including two this week. Israeli-Palestinian clashes since September
have killed 411 people on the Palestinian side and 70 on the Israeli side.
Until now, most Muslim
countries had distanced themselves from Iran, which considers Israel its archenemy, in its
all-out support for a Palestinian uprising. But parliamentary leaders from more than 30
Islamic countries - including Egypt and Jordan, which both have diplomatic relations with
Israel - are attending the Tehran conference.
In Washington on Monday,
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that although he was not aware
specifically of the meeting in Tehran, the United States was concerned about groups like
Hamas and Hezbollah that participated.
Iran's supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, opened the conference with a call for the rest of the Muslim world
to support the Palestinians, even if that meant defying the United States and the West.
"The strength of
Islamic resistance lies in its ability to wreak crushing blows against Israeli actions,
and not in relying on diplomatic efforts and mediation of others," Khamenei said.