Protesters in Arab Countries Decry Seizure of Palestinian HQ

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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.