Egypt persuades Hamas figure to leave, citing danger
CAIRO: Jordan s King Abdullah II met in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak on Friday in a hastily-called meeting to discuss escalating Mideast violence.
The two leaders of moderate, U.S.-backed Arab regimes, the only countries in the region to sign peace treaties with Israel, discussed the Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, which have killed 86 Palestinians in Gaza and 66 people in Lebanon, many of them civilians.
Abdullah and Mubarak met, had lunch and then Abdullah left for Jordan a few hours later, Egypt s official news agency reported.
Back in Amman, more than 2,000 demonstrators gathered at a mosque after Friday prayers to protest the Israeli military assaults, shouting Zionists get out, get out! and Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan are one people! The rally ended peacefully with no clashes reported.
Jordan and Egypt have taken a lead in efforts to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas amid infighting between his Fatah faction and the militant group Hamas, which runs the Palestinian government, as well as in Israeli-Palestinian clashes. Egypt has also played a mediating role in the current escalation between Israel and Hamas officials.
U.S. President George W. Bush phoned Mubarak early Friday to talk about the escalations in Lebanon and Gaza, the agency reported.
The call could be an attempt by Bush to enlist Mubarak s help in the Lebanon crisis as well.
The two leaders tackled ways to contain the current exploding situation on the Lebanese stage and violence in the Gaza Strip, the agency reported.
Condemnations of Israel reverberated through the Arab world. But so did criticism of Hezbollah, whose brazen capture of two Israeli soldiers set off Israel s offensive on Lebanon, the heaviest one there in 24 years.
In a significant move, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world s political heavyweight and economic powerhouse, accused Hezbollah guerrillas, without naming them, of uncalculated adventures that could precipitate a new Middle East crisis.
A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said the militant group s actions were not legitimate, and that Hezbollah alone bore responsibility for ending the crisis.
Hezbollah s actions could lead to an extremely serious situation which could subject all Arab nations and its achievements to destruction, the official was quoted as saying.
On Thursday, Egypt persuaded senior Hamas member Mohammad Nazzal to leave the country at short notice on Thursday by telling him that his life was in danger, a source close to Nazzal s delegation said. Nazzal, a Damascus-based member of the Hamas political bureau, arrived in Cairo on Tuesday and told Reuters on Wednesday that he planned to stay several days after talks with Egyptian officials including intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. But on Thursday the Egyptian authorities canceled a news conference by Nazzal for unspecified security reasons and advised him to take the next plane to Damascus, which left Cairo at about 7 p.m. (16:00 GMT), the source said. Speaking by telephone after arrival in the Syrian capital, the source quoted the Egyptian authorities as saying Nazzal s name was on an Israeli hit list. Israel is not known to have carried out a political killing in Egypt since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979. Nazzal said Egypt tried to persuade Hamas to accept an Israeli offer to release Palestinian prisoners at a later stage but Hamas did not have enough trust in an Israeli promise. Agencies