CEASEFIRE! – or face Middle East war says Saudi King Abdullah

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The front of last Saturday’s 30,000-strong march through central London condemning Israel
The front of last Saturday’s 30,000-strong march through central London condemning Israel

Yesterday fighting in the Lebanon was continuing in Bint Jebayl with Israeli tanks and troops in the town.

However, the Israeli Army admitted it did not control the town, which is just two miles from the Israeli border.

Meanwhile, Israeli bombs were showering down on the city of Sidon, killing many more civilians.

The continuing struggle has electrified the Arab masses causing King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to give President Bush a stern warning.

In statement broadcast on Saudi television yesterday, King Abdullah said: ‘If the peace option fails because of Israeli arrogance, there will be no other option but war.’

Calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Lebanon and a halt to the attacks on the Palestinians, the King added: ‘No one can predict what will happen if things get out of control.’

He pledged that Saudi Arabia will provide $500m in aid to rebuild Lebanon and $250m to assist the Palestinians.

In London, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Crown Prince Saud al-Faisal insisted on an immediate ceasefire.

Speaking after talks with British Prime Minister Blair, al-Faisal said: ‘Lebanese people are dying, Lebanon’s infrastructure is being detroyed and for no fault of the Lebanese people.

‘The crisis is Lebanon’s crisis, not Britain’s or Saudi Arabia’s or America’s crisis.

‘What we want is to help that country overcome this crisis.’

Back in Lebanon, the country’s parliamentary speaker rejected US terms for a ceasefire.

Nabih Berri, who is an ally of Hezbollah, said: ‘The single basket presented by (US Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice) yesterday cannot be implemented in Lebanon without creating internal strife and this is very dangerous.’

Berri added: ‘I insist on two stages and I am willing to discuss the second stage in a national dialogue after a ceasefire.’

In the UK, condemning the killing of Lebanese civilians, Labour MP David Winnick said yesterday:

‘Israel needs to be told very firmly indeed, particularly by the United States, and to some extent by Britain, that it really must stop what is now happening and the way in which it is responding to the attacks by Hezbollah.

‘I want Israel to recognise that it’s losing sympathy, understandably and rightly, over the war which is inflicting so much damage and causing so many deaths and serious injuries, even bombing a Red Cross ambulance.

‘It’s totally unacceptable.’

A heated debate erupted in the House of Commons after Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett made a statement to MPs.

Tory MP Sir Peter Tapsell accused the British government of acting ‘in collusion with President Bush, in giving Israel the go-ahead to wage unlimited war for ten days, not just against Hezbollah in sovereign Lebanon but against civilians in residential Beirut drawn from all faiths and nationalities – a war crime grimly reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw.’

Later in the debate, Labour’s Gerald Kaufman called on Beckett to ‘bear in mind that no party to this conflict has clean hands or occupies moral high ground.

‘The father of the Israeli foreign minister with whom my honourable friend the minister for the Middle East had talks, was a terrorist leader who organised the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to which the Israelis have just disgracefully unveiled a memorial plaque.’