Islamic States Warn Of
'All-Out War' In Mid-East


(AFP) - Islamic foreign ministers warned of "all-out war" in the Middle East as any debate on the September 11 attacks on the United States -- the original reason for bringing them together -- was sidelined at a Muslim conference on terrorism here.
"Israel's terrorist actions and aggressive practices, posing a threat to international peace and security and dragging the region towards an all-out war, necessitate immediate action by the UN Security Council to apply Chapter VII of the UN Charter," the ministers said in a statement.
Under a clause in that chapter, the UN Security Council can order the use of force to maintain international peace and security if all other means are deemed to have failed.
The statement was made unanimously by the 53 members of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) represented at a special three-day meeting on terrorism here.
But they were less united over finding a definition for "terrorism".
The conference was called in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, but concern over those atrocities was mostly blown aside by Israel's latest actions in Palestinian areas.
The conference opened with the prime minister of the host country Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, controversially including Palestinian suicide bombers in his simple definition of terrorists as people who attack civilians.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Jassim reflected the well-known sentiments of many of the countries at the meeting when he told AFP later: "No. They are not terrorists. It is the Israelis who are terrorists but not the Palestinians because they are fighting for their land."
The ministers' statement on the Middle East described the Israeli action in Palestinian areas and against the headquarters of Yasser Arafat as "a violation of all international norms and laws and the culmination of state terrorism as practised by Israel".
Mahathir's call for a globally acceptable definition of terrorism as "attacks against civilians" -- and joint action against it -- was soon swamped by condemnation of Israel.
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told the conference that Washington had "severely damaged this international momentum against terrorism through a series of unilateral actions, short-sighted policies and arrogant statements".
Mahathir said, however, that Muslims had grievances which were "real and truly unbearable, beyond mere understanding and tolerance".
He referred to the Palestinians and ideological, military and economic dominance by developed countries as among the issues which had created "a great deal of bitterness and anger among Muslims".
"The impotence of Muslim countries to do anything to remedy the situation adds to this frustration and anger," he said, leading some people to "commit terrible acts of terror".
"The world must deal with these misguided people not just by hunting them down but also by removing the causes of their anger and frustration," he said.
He went on to warn Israel: "The (Nazi) Holocaust did not defeat the Jews. A second Holocaust with Arabs for victims will not defeat the Arabs either."
"The suicide bombers consider themselves already dead and are on the way to heaven. They are not likely to be deterred by the threat of death," Mahathir said.
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