Israel’s president Moshe Katsav says of the Arab states “they do not stand behind us, but they do understand why we could not allow Hizbollah to shed our blood”.
His claim came after Saudi Arabia issued an official statement condemning Hizbollah, stating that “a distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures”.
It added that “these elements [inside Lebanon] should bear the responsibility for their irresponsible actions and they alone should end the crisis they have created”.
The Saudi state has been rewarded by Washington with $6 billion worth of arms sales.
The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah released a joint statement condemning Hizbollah and warning against any moves that could edge the region towards “uncalculated confrontations”.
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice spoke of creating a “new” Middle East out of the conflict - her dream is of a region safe for Western interests.
The sight of the Arab leaders tacitly lining up with Washington has created a backlash across the Middle East, with protesters defying repression.
In Egypt’s capital, Cairo, 5,000 protesters gathered after Friday prayers at the al-Azhar Mosque, at a demonstration called by the Muslim Brotherhood and the democracy movement Kifaya.
“All together to resist the enemy,” Sameh Ashour, head of the Arab Lawyers Union, told the crowd. “Resistance is the solution.”
Mubarak was branded a US agent by Kifaya spokesperson George Ishak, who said, “We don’t want agreements with Israel, we don’t want relations with Israel.”
Thousands of police surrounded the protesters, beating them back when they tried to move into the streets.
In the Mediterranean port of Alexandria another 3,000 demonstrated.
In Kuwait hundreds of people demonstrated outside the US embassy last Saturday in support of Hizbollah.
In autocratic Kuwait, such a protest was a rare event. Demonstrators chanted pro-Hizbollah slogans and condemned US policy in the Middle East.
“America and Israel are two faces of one kind of terrorism,” read one banner.
In Bahrain, some 10,000 Sunnis and Shias marched in the capital, Manama. They denounced the Arab governments, chanting, “Defeated Arabs, your silence is a crime.”