| GEO World|
| Muslim nations condemn Israel offensive|
| Updated at: 0804 PST, Tuesday, December 30, 2008|
PARIS: Muslim nations on Monday condemned Israel over the deadly air attacks on the Gaza Strip, as European diplomats called for an urgent meeting on the crisis which sparked anti-Israeli protests around Europe.
EU foreign ministers will meet in Paris Tuesday to "look into how the European Union can help ease the current crisis, along with the efforts of the international community, especially the secretary general of the United Nations," a French foreign ministry statement said.
As the death toll in Gaza from Israel's offensive against the Islamist Hamas-controlled territory exceeded 300, efforts to hold talks between Syria and Israel were suspended.
Rebuffing Arab appeals, the United States demanded that Hamas agree to a "sustainable and durable ceasefire" and gave its support to Israel's attacks.
"In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called key world leaders and diplomats, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana as well as counterparts from Britain to Saudi Arabia to help restore a ceasefire, officials said.
Jordan's King Abdullah II urged US President George W. Bush to help end Israel's air blitz, the palace said.
"Effective international efforts must be launched to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza and end the suffering of the Palestinians," the king told Bush over the telephone, according to a palace statement.
Other Muslim countries including Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Pakistan joined in condemning Israel. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said it was ironic that the raids occurred as people entered the Islamic New Year and days before the new year of 2009.
"We should pray that the earth will be more peaceful, but we've been torn by the situation in Palestine and Gaza," Yudhoyono told reporters.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged Israel and Palestinian leaders to let urgent medical aid into Gaza, to provide a "humanitarian breathing space" amid the fighting, his spokesman said.