PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia – The Islamic world's biggest bloc on Thursday demanded an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, as Iran's hard-line president called for the obliteration of the Jewish state.
Key leaders in the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, including from Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey, warned that Israel's warfare would stoke Muslim radicalism and breed new terrorists, and sought a U.N. investigation into possible Israeli human rights violations in Lebanese and Palestinian territories.
The OIC issued a declaration after an emergency summit in Malaysia that voiced solidarity with the Lebanese people "in their legitimate and heroic resistance against the Israeli aggression."
The leaders demanded that the U.N. Security Council "fulfill its responsibility ... without any further delay by deciding on and enforcing an immediate and unconditional comprehensive cease-fire," the OIC said.
"We hold Israel responsible for the loss of lives and suffering ... and demand that Israel compensate (Lebanon) and its people for the losses sustained resulting from Israeli aggression," the declaration added.
Malaysia, which chairs the OIC, rallied presidents, prime ministers and policy-makers of 17 key Muslim nations for one-day talks to articulate their opposition to Israel's attacks.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Middle East would be better off "without the existence of the Zionist regime," saying Israel was trying to "plunder the wealth in the region in order to dominate." Israel "is an illegitimate regime, there is no legal basis for its existence."
He accused the United States of trying to use Israel to control the Middle East and its oil wealth, saying the attacks in Lebanon were "a pre-planned program."
"Today the Americans are after the greater Middle East," Ahmadinejad said. "The Zionist regime is used to reach this objective. The sole existence of this regime is for invasion and attack."
Ahmadinejad, who has in the past called for Israel to be wiped off the map, said Thursday that "the main solution (to the Mideast conflict) is for the elimination of the Zionist regime."
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the fighting has caused OIC countries to "fear a new wave of angry people might join the ranks of terrorists."
He called for a U.N.-backed force to stabilize the situation, stressing that Muslims "must show preparedness to contribute forces for peacekeeping operations under the United Nations banner."
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who leads the world's most populous Muslim nation, said the turmoil could bring the international community "just one step away to that ultimate nightmare: a clash of civilizations."
"This war must stop, or it will radicalize the Muslim world, even those of us who are moderate today," he said.
Other top figures assembled were leaders of Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Pakistan and Turkey. Foreign ministers and senior officials represented Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
About 100 Malaysian Muslim activists chanted anti-Israeli slogans outside the summit venue.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, addressing the conference in a video statement, said Israel's offensive has caused "over 900 (people) killed and 3,000 injured so far, one third of the casualties are children under 12."