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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday urged Arab leaders to cut all contacts with Israel and use their political and economic influence to pressure the Israelis to halt their offensive in Gaza.
Ahmadinejad told Al-Manar television, owned by Hizbullah, that the Arabs should also pressure Israel's Western backers to stop the fighting.
"Arabs can do many things on the political level - they can cut off all open and secret contacts" with Israel, "they can use their political capabilities to pressure the backers of the Zionist entity by severing relations with them. And they can make use of their economic wealth," Ahmadinejad said.
Ahmadinejad dismissed allegations that Iran is urging Hamas to reject Egyptian diplomatic efforts to end the fighting but demanded that Egypt open the border crossings with the Gaza Strip.
He said Arab governments should exert pressure "on the protectors of the Zionist entity" rather than "putting pressure on Hamas."
In a gesture of support with the Gaza Palestinians, Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious opinion, or fatwa, declaring the purchase of any Israeli goods or trade with Israeli companies be forbidden.
Last week, Iranian authorities issued an order banning international companies from working in Iran if they have shares owned by Israelis. On Sunday, the Iranian government said it plans to impose sanctions on foreign companies in Iran who also deal with Israel.
It is unclear how or when the ban might be carried out, and no details were given regarding the sanctions.
In the fatwa posted on his Web site, Khamenei said Muslims throughout the world must avoid the purchase, import, and promotion of any products Israelis may profit from.
"All Muslims are required to avoid purchase and use of goods that bring profit to Zionists who are at war with Islam and Muslims," Khamenei said.
A fatwa is a religious opinion Muslims obey if they revere the person issuing it, which in the case of Khamenei would be restricted largely to Shi'ites in Iran and other parts of the world.
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