Protesters in Arab Countries Decry Seizure of Palestinian HQ

Arabs and Palestinian refugees staged protests in several countries Monday against Israel's seizure of the Palestinian headquarters in east Jerusalem.

About 1,000 Palestinians marched through Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon's largest refugee camp, chanting: "The Orient House will remain free and independent."

Israeli police shut down Orient House in east Jerusalem in a pre-dawn raid on Friday, hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and 15 others in a Jerusalem pizzeria.

The Arab League said a meeting of Arab information ministers will take place in Cairo on Wednesday to forge a common strategy following Israel's action.

In the Nahr al Bared and Al Badawi refugee camps in northern Lebanon, Palestinians closed their shops and businesses for the day. In Ein el-Hilweh and the southern camps of Rashidiyeh, Al Bass and Bourj al-Shemali, merchants shut down for a few hours.

In Jordan, Prime Minister Ali Abu-Ragheb criticized his Israeli counterpart, saying Ariel Sharon has "no strategy for peace."

Also Monday, 150 Jordanian political activists staged a sit-in to protest against the Orient House takeover and demanded their government expel the Israeli ambassador in Jordan.

Hours before the sit-in, members of Jordan's 13 professional associations staged a one-hour strike.

In Damascus, Syria, nearly 60 Syrian and Palestinian intellectuals held a protest meeting at the offices of the state-sponsored Syrian Arab Writers Association.