Brazil slams US for failure to stop Mideast violence
BRASILIA - Brazil's president on Tuesday slammed the United Nations and United States for failing to get a resolution passed to stop violence in Gaza, and called for an emergency UN session to do so.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on a visit to Brazil's northeast that "what has been made clear is that the UN does not have the strength to pass a resolution that can achieve peace in that place.
"And it doesn't have the strength because the United States has veto power and that is why things do not get done," charged Lula, whose country aspires to a seat on a reformed UN Security Council.
Lula said he had instructed Foreign Minister Celso Amorim to contact France about the possibility of an emergency UN meeting on the violence.
Brazil's president flatly charged US efforts at mediating "are not working."
"We are going to work and make a huge effort, with other countries, so that those people stop killing each other," Lula said.
The Security Council on Sunday passed a non-binding statement that urged an immediate end to violence in Gaza and urged the parties "to stop immediately all military activities."
Lula said that "it is true Hamas is a very radical group. But it is also true that Israel's military might next to Palestine's is like one person standing there with a match while the other has a bomb, just so much greater."
Protesters burn Israeli, US flags in Athens demo
Greek riot police fired tear gas Monday to keep protesters away from the Israeli embassy during a demonstration against Israel's Gaza Strip offensive
The protesters burned Israeli and US flags. Some beat shoes against photographs of US President George W Bush.
Two more demonstrations by leftists and communists will be held in Athens later Monday, and another two in the northern port of Thessaloniki.
Greece on Sunday announced it would send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and labelled Israel's response to Hamas "disproportionate".
"Greece, which always condemns all forms of violence and terrorism, stands ready...to contribute humanitarian aid as soon as this is possible," Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a statement.
Rally in Japan against Israeli strikes in Gaza
Around 200 people held a rally in Tokyo Tuesday against Israel's deadly attacks on Gaza and urged Japan to use its influence to end the violence.
Carrying flowers and candles, the demonstrators offered a one-minute prayer in front of the Israeli embassy, with a Buddhist monk ringing a bell for the souls of the victims.
"This is nothing but a bloodbath," organiser Hiroshi Taniyama told demonstrators.
"This isn't someone else's matter," he said. "We are going to continue our protests until their battle ends."
Surrounded by riot police, the demonstrators also chanted slogans and carried banners that read: "End the massacre in Gaza. Stop killing civilians. Don't kill children."
They placed a letter of protest in the embassy's mailbox hours after delivering a separate letter to Japan's foreign ministry urging it to put pressure on Israel. Japan is a major donor to the Middle East peace process.
"We hope Japan will play an active role in raising calls for a halt to the offensive," said Masaki Takahashi, another organiser.
Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone held a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni late Monday and called on her country to show "self-restraint."
While voicing regret and concern, Nakasone said Japan was committed to providing financial support, according to Japan's foreign ministry.
Scuffles, arrests at Israeli embassy protest in London
Between 200 and 300 demonstrators protested peacefully outside the Israeli embassy in London on Tuesday, after two previous days' rallies that descended into violence.
The demonstration was smaller than on Sunday and Monday.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said there were no arrests, and police did not have to block off the main thoroughfare outside the embassy in Knightsbridge, a plush district west of London's city centre.
Seven people were arrested Monday as protesters scuffled with police outside the Israeli embassy in London in a second day of rowdy protests over Israel's deadly air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Several hundred protesters were initially kept behind metal barriers across from the embassy in the up-scale central London district of Kensington, but surged forward across the road towards the front gates.
Police on horseback moved in to try to disperse the crowd and confused scuffles broke out among security forces and protesters, brandishing placards reading "Free Palestine" and "Stop starving the Palestinians".
At one point an Israeli flag was burned in the crowd. Some waved placards reading "Stop the Holocaust in Gaza" and "End the siege on Gaza".
"There were around 600 demonstrators. Seven arrests were made for various public order offences, including assaulting the police," a Scotland Yard spokesman said, adding that the protest broke up in the early evening.
While the crowd dispersed, two people were pinned to the ground by police officers, one of the demonstrators being handcuffed.
A spokeswoman for the Stop the War Coalition (STWC) said the organisation intended to rally every day at 2:00 pm outside the Israeli embassy.
Friday's planned rally will take place outside the Egyptian embassy, and a "national emergency demonstration" in central London is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 pm in protest at Israel's "atrocities".
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown "needs to be reminded that (his predecessor) Tony Blair's support for Israel's attack on Lebanon in 2006 led to him being forced from office," STWC said in a statement.
"The British government must call for the bombing to stop now and for an end to Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza over the past year, which has inflicted near starvation and lack of essential resources on its people."
The Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We're aware of further protests possibly taking place. We are trying to liaise with the organisers. We do invite any organisers of any protests to work with us because we are here to facilitate lawful demonstration."
A 90-minute demonstration in Birmingham, Britain's second city, attracted around 200 people, according to West Midlands Police.
Members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign also gathered in the Welsh capital Cardiff and Sheffield and Halifax in northern England.
On Sunday outside the Israeli embassy in London, 10 people were arrested after Kensington area was brought to a halt by what organisers said were 3,000 protestors, although police put the figure at 700.
Britain renewed its call Monday for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians, while lamenting the "unacceptable" loss of innocent lives as Israeli strikes in Gaza continued for a third day.
Asked if the Israeli attacks could be justified, Miliband told BBC radio: "I think that any innocent loss of life is unacceptable and in this case there have been massive casualties, some of them civilians and some of them children."
Maghreb states slam Israeli 'barbarous aggression'
The foreign ministers of the North African Maghreb states meeting in Libya on Tuesday called for an end to Israel's "barbarous aggression" against the Gaza Strip, they said in a statement.
Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia called for the "brutal and barbarous aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza to stop, and for aid in all its forms to continue being delivered" to residents, it said.
"The consultative meeting aimed at adopting a common position among Maghreb states" ahead of Wednesday's Arab League gathering in Cairo, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham said.
Rare protests in Saudi Arabia in support of Gazans
Rare protests held in eastern Saudi Arabia against Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip were broken up by police firing rubber bullets, according to a report Tuesday.
Hundreds joined the pro-Palestinian demonstrations Monday afternoon in heavily Shiite Al Qatif, just west of Dammam, according to the Shiite news website Rasid.com.
Several protestors were arrested, according to Rasid.
A similar protest was held Monday evening in nearby Safwa, ending with no arrests, according to the website.
Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned as "flagrant aggression" Israel's four-day-old bombing campaign against Gaza strip.
African Union lambasts Israeli 'disproportionate' attacks
The African Union on Tuesday condemned Israel's air raids on the Gaza Strip and urged the UN Security Council to "compel" Israel to declare a ceasefire.
"The (AU) Commission strongly condemns the ongoing air raids on the Gaza Strip by Israel since 27 December," the bloc said in a statement.
"This massive and disproportionate attack constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law and will further aggravate the suffering of the civilian population, which, as a result of the siege imposed by Israel, has been faced by shortages of food, medicine and fuel."
The body appealed to the UN Security Council and members of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet "to fully assume their responsibilities towards the civilians in the Gaza Strip by compelling Israel to an immediate ceasefire".
The AU also urged the world to step up efforts to provide medical and humanitarian aid to victims of the attacks.
SAfrica summons Israeli envoy over raids on Gaza
South Africa summoned Israel's ambassador Monday to express its "grave concern" at "the brutal assault" by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip, an official statement said.
Deputy foreign minister Fatima Hajaig summoned Israel's ambassador here, Dov Segev-Steinberg, to a meeting in Pretoria to express the government's concern about the attacks, the foreign ministry said in the statement.
"The South African government called on the Israeli government to stop the military onslaught in Gaza and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces currently amassing on the border," it said.
The attacks represent "a gross violation of the rights of the people of Gaza," the statement said.
Calling the death and destruction in Gaza "totally unacceptable," along with the continued siege of the poverty-stricken Palestinian territory, Hajaig called on Israel to stop the attacks immediately.
Pretoria urged all the parties in the conflict to return to peace negotiations without preconditions.
China urges Israel to end deadly strikes in Gaza
China urged Israel on Monday to immediately stop military operations in the Gaza Strip, while calling for the Israelis and Hamas to work towards peace.
"The Chinese side is shocked and seriously concerned over the current military operations in Gaza that have caused a large number of deaths and injuries," Vice Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement.
"The world is concerned with the Mideast peace process. To use armed force to resolve differences, especially to kill and wound ordinary citizens, runs counter to these efforts.
"The Chinese side strongly calls on the concerned parties to immediately cease military operations and adopt realistic measures aimed at easing the tense situation in Gaza."
Malaysia condemns 'disproportionate' Israeli action
Malaysia accused Israel of using "disproportionate" military force in its offensive against Gaza and warned that the campaign risked causing a humanitarian catastrophe.
"Malaysia deplores the disproportionate use of military power by Israel against the people of Gaza," Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a statement late Sunday.
"A humanitarian catastrophe must be avoided at all costs. There must be an immediate halt to the violence," he added. Abdullah also urged the United Nations to take action to establish peace in Gaza.
"The ceasefire must be restored immediately and respected by all concerned," he said.