BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein used his traditional Christmas message Monday to call on the world's Christians and Muslims to rise up in holy war against Israel and the ''Zionist conspiracy.''
The Iraqi leader praised Christians and other Iraqis for standing up to conspiracies through which ''the United States, Britain and Zionism ... have tried to bend Iraqis' will, bring them to their knees and master their independent decision.''
The letter was carried on the front page of every Baghdad newspaper.
The president called on Christians and Muslims everywhere to take ''the path of jihad (holy war), without which we cannot attain our aspirations of establishing right, justice and peace and delivering humanity from the evils of aggressors, criminal killers.''
Iraq opposes peace agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians and those signed with neighboring countries.
''The Zionist conspiracy aims at Judaizing (Jerusalem) and other areas of Palestine and annihilating its indigenous population, Muslims and Christians, with the backing of America,'' al-Thawra daily quoted Saddam as saying in his letter.
Since Israeli-Palestinian clashes began in late September, more than 340 people, most of them Palestinians, have died and thousands have been injured. Earlier this month, Iraq pledged $881 million in oil revenues to support the Palestinian uprising.