CHICAGO (–The Secretary General of the League of Arab States told an audience of about 500 people here that the United States must become an “honest broker” in Middle East conflicts, particularly the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the current dispute over allowing UN weapons inspectors into Iraq.

“When we talk about freedom, we cannot forget about our brothers in Palestine who are now under extreme pressure, their rights, interests, even their lives are in the hands of a military occupation,” his Excellency Amr Moussa told the audience at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, where he was a guest of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.

He said the Palestinian people “cannot accept and do resist” such occupation, adding, “no people worthy of its name will accept gladly foreign military occupation. Dignity is non-negotiable.”


Mr. Moussa said there are many allegations leveled against Arabs and Islam since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But all religions call for peace and basic rights of people, he said.

“We cannot accept (the charge of) this or that religion as being a religion of world confrontation. We should not enter an endeavor that slanders religion. I’m here on a mission of peace … but justice has to prevail,” he said.

Speaking in a building that once was a Jewish synagogue, Mr. Moussa said the problem in Palestine cannot be solved by favoring one side over another, referring to the lopsided U.S. support of Israel while the Bush administration refuses to even talk to President Yasser Arafat.

Concerning Iraq, Mr. Moussa said that allowing UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq “would be the best way for us to know authoritatively what is going on there.”

Mr. Moussa said the world that opposes U.S. military attacks on Iraq is not standing against (President Bush) to prevent him from making sure of what’s going on in Iraq, but he called for international legitimacy to the process and enough time for inspections to work.

He listed the eradication of poverty, disease, the observance of human rights laws and elimination of terrorism as ills that must be fought by all nations for peace to exist.

In his introduction of Mr. Moussa, the Rev. Jackson said they had just got off the phone with Chairman Arafat and could hear Israeli bullets hitting Mr. Arafat’s compound. [Israeli bulldozers destroyed nearly all of Mr. Arafat’s headquarters during an assault on the compound.]

“There is a process for conflict resolution. There is a UN Charter,” the Rev. Jackson said. “These are U.S. bullets, U.S. tanks and U.S. money. That alone obligates us to do what we can to stop the killing and stop the violence.”

If Mr. Bush unleashes an attack on Iraq, then China can attack Taiwan, India and Pakistan can attack each other and the Koreas could launch attacks, he said.

“All of these countries have weapons of mass destruction,” Rev. Jackson said, adding, “Russians have the most weapons of mass destruction and they are aimed directly at us and can reach us today.”

But the United States gave Russia $20 million to decommission their weapons while the U.S. government is threatening to attack Iraq, he said.

Both men called on Saddam Hussein to honor current UN resolutions allowing weapons inspectors access into Iraq.

Responding to questions posed by The Final Call during a press conference after the public meeting, Mr. Moussa said existing UN resolutions to allow weapons inspectors into Iraq will have to be implemented first, even as discussions continue on a new resolution to be proposed by the United States.

Concerning how Israel could continue an attack on Mr. Arafat’s compound in the face of world condemnation and calls for Israel to cease and desist, Mr. Moussa said, “Because of the special status that Israel has acquired, it has become above the law. But, practically speaking, the Security Council will adopt a resolution, and Israel will not respect it. And Israel will not be punished for that. This is one of the major ills” in carrying out international law, he said.