Muslim leaders slam Israel; Annan urges calm

DOHA, Reuters

Leaders of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims began a summit on Sunday calling for tough action against Israel for what they said were war crimes against Palestinians. Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir called on the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Muslim world’s biggest group, to revive Jihad (holy struggle) to liberate Arab lands — a term absent since 1991. “The OIC had eliminated the call for Jihad from its documents out of its keenness to promote the peace process with the Israeli enemy,” Bashir said. “But the recent confrontations in the occupied territories affirm that Jihad is the only means to snatch our rights from an enemy that does not believe in the language of peace and dialogue,” he added. Palestinian President Yasser Arafat told the conference that his people were determined to keep up their uprising against Israeli occupation despite the heavy death toll. But U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan counselled restraint, urging the summit not to promote violence and hatred. Israeli-Palestinian violence which has killed at least 205 people, most of them Palestinians, is dominating the three-day summit expected to call on Muslims to sever ties with Israel. “The question before the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, before this assembly, and before the world, is how to bring an end to the violence and killing, and how to respect the sanctity of every human life, Palestinian or Israeli, young or old,” Annan said in a speech to the summit.