Mubarak and Hussein rally to Arafat's aid

Netanyahu and Hamas put squeeze on Palestinian leader ahead of US Secretary of State's visit

In an attempt to get the United States to take the initiative in defusing the growing crisis in relations between Israel and the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, met King Hussein of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt in Cairo yesterday.

The meeting comes a few days before the first visit of Madeleine Albright as US Secretary of State to the Middle East and amid reports that she will undertake no political initiative in the wake of the suicide bombs in Jerusalem last Thursday, which killed seven and wounded 192 people.

The aim of the mini-summit in Cairo will be to try to relieve some of the pressure on Mr Arafat, who is being squeezed between the conflicting demands of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Hamas, the Islamic militant organisation behind the suicide bombing campaign. For different reasons both Mr Netanyahu and Hamas would like to weaken Mr Arafat and undermine the Oslo accords.

"It is clear that the peace process and the occupied Palestinian territories are in a critical state," said Amr Moussa, the Egyptian Foreign Minister. He added: "Arabs have chosen the path of peace and they will stick to it, but it will have to be a peace that is just and balanced and based on implementing the principles agreed upon in [the 1991] Madrid [peace conference] and the Oslo accord."

Israel has arrested 170 Palestinians in the occupied territories while Israelis wait to see if there will be further bombs. The fact that three bombers took part in the last attack shows that Hamas is not short of volunteers willing to blow themselves up. Fearing further suicide attacks few Israelis boarded buses during rush hour yesterday, though there are soldiers at every bus stop. Tourism, the largest industry in Jerusalem, has been badly damaged and most restaurants have empty tables and hotels empty rooms.

Mr Arafat says the attacks are orchestrated from outside the country, by which he means the Hamas leadership living abroad, but with control over some Hamas cells on the West Bank. In Jordan, security forces have arrested Ibrahim Goshe, the Hamas spokesman, who has advocated more bombings.

Summarising the Palestinian leader's dilemma, Ziyad Abu Amr, a member of the Palestinian legislature and a specialist on Hamas, said: "If he cracks down on militants, he risks his popularity, and if doesn't, the US and Israel could decide to dispose of him."

Although confident that he will face little pressure from the US to make concessions, Mr Netanyahu appears to be at a loss about how to stop the suicide bombing and the drain of casualties in Lebanon. Hizbollah guerrillas killed another Israeli soldier yesterday in an attack on a position in the Israeli occupation zone, bringing to 31 the number of Israeli troops killed in combat this year, in addition to the 73 paratroopers who died when two helicopters collided.

The losses have led to renewed calls in Israel for a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. Even Ariel Sharon, the general who led the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, wrote in the daily Yediot Aharanot that one option was for Israel "to leave south Lebanon, according to a decision, plan and timetable of our own ... without any tie to talks with Syria, and without paying any diplomatic or security price to Syria in exchange for our pain in Lebanon."

Mystery still surrounds the circumstances in which a 16-member unit of Israeli naval commandos was ambushed between Tyre and Sidon in Lebanon early last Friday morning. Ten were killed, one is missing and four were wounded, one seriously. Only one commando survived unwounded to call in helicopters for evacuation during which Major Dagesh Maher, a doctor in the rescue unit, was also killed.

The Israeli press speculated yesterday about whether or not Hizbollah knew the commandos were coming, allowing them to place a bomb which killed many of the soldiers early on in the engagement. Hizbollah says the raiding party was detected as it came ashore. Third Petty Officer Itamar Ilya is still missing, presumed dead.

Mr Netanyahu has not put forward any new policies to stem the suicide bombings in Israel or the fighting in Lebanon. If both continue then he may start to pay a political price. "Palestinian terrorists have become so sophisticated that after a month of intensive investigation, we know nothing about them," wrote Hemi Shalev, a commentator in the daily Ma'ariv.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week