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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Cairo, 3 August (AKI) - Reflecting his country's mounting indignation at Israel's 23-day-long air and land borne offensive in Lebanon, the head of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party (PND), Gamal Mubarak, son and heir apparent of Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, has rejected military intervention in Lebanon as 'deluded'. He ha also slammed the United States vision of a 'New Middle East' as a failed project that reveals an inability to handle the region's problems.

"The region's problems cannot be solved with military intervention, and whoever believes they can is deluded," pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Thursday quoted Gamal as saying in an address to the PND late on Wednesday.

"The entire Lebanese people has Egypt's full support, irrespective of creed," Gamal continued, adding: "the Lebanese resistance is a popular resistance." He called for an international inquiry into the Israeli military's aerial bombardment last Sunday of an apartment building in the southern Lebanese village of Qana, in which 60 civilians died, of whom 37 were children.

Beirut said on Thursday that 900 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, over 3,000 injured and 800,000 displaced in the conflict in Lebanon that began after guerillas from militant Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. At least 56 Israelis, including 19 cilivians, have died in the fighting.

Gamal, who observers and analysts in Egypt are widely tipping to succeed his father in the next few years, reiterated his father's criticism of the "passivity" of the international community in the face of the people of Lebanon's torment. Gamaal's address also levelled specific criticism at US and Israeli foreign policy in the region.

"They will not achieve their objectives in the region with military action," he stressed. The US and Israel are among the few countries that have continued to argue there can be no ceasefire in Lebanon until Hezbollah is disarmed and the Israeli soldiers are released.

Gamal's address signals a shift government policy, which earlier in the conflict shied away from condemning Israel. It appears to have been swayed by public opinion in Egypt, where numerous anti-Israel demonstrations have been staged in recent days in support of the Lebanese people.

The powerful, outlawed but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood Movement's leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, on Wednesday called on his supporters to prepare for a Jihad or holy war against the "Zionist" state of Israel and to support "the activists from resistance movements in Lebanon and in the Palestinian territories."

"We need to get read to fight a guerrilla war against the Zionists," Akef said, terming Arab countries' stance over Israel's actions in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories - as "vile and shameful."

The ongoing offensive in Gaza - sparked by the kidnap by Hamas-linked Palestinian militants of an Israeli soldier on 25 June - has killed at least 160 Palestinians and injured hundreds more.

A total 88 Muslim Brotherhood MPs were elected last December as independents, making the movement the largest opposition force in parliament.
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