Saudi Cabinet appeals to international community to adopt firm stance on Israel, deplores “terrorist” blasts in Iraq

Contacts to be followed up on fate of indirect negotiations between Palestinian National Authority, Israel

Israel bombs disused Gaza Airport, continues assaults on Jerusalem

Lebanese President says Lebanon’s stability is not going well with Israel

King Juan Carlos of Spain stresses in Beirut his country’s commitment to peace initiatives in region

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the Cabinet session held at Al-Yamamah Palace.

At the outset of the session, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques briefed the Cabinet on the talks he held with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The King reiterated the Kingdom's support for all international efforts to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan. Also, the King briefed the Cabinet on the message he sent to the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the session, the Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja said that the Cabinet then listened to a summary on the developments at Arab, regional and international arenas, particularly the situation in occupied Palestine as well as the Israeli threats against the Palestinian people, Syria and Lebanon.

In this regard, the Cabinet appealed to the international community to take a firm stand against such threats; to intensify efforts to halt the continued Israeli inhuman practices against the Palestinian people; to stop the arbitrary arrests, air strikes on Gaza Strip and attacks on the Islamic sanctities; and to stop the implementation of policies and schemes aimed at Judaizing Jerusalem.

Dr. Khoja also said the Cabinet condemned the terrorist bombings that took place in Iraq which hurt dozens of innocent victims, stressing the Kingdom's firm position which rejects terrorism whatever its source and regardless of its location.

The Kingdom is looking forward to the success of the efforts exerted by the Iraqi government to achieve security and stability in Iraq.

Dr. Khoja said the Cabinet reviewed a number of issues on its agenda and issued the following decisions:

The Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding on military cooperation between the Ministry of Defense and Aviation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Defense of the Arab Republic of Egypt which was signed in Riyadh and Cairo on 05/04/2009.

The Cabinet authorized the Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior-or his deputy-to discuss with the Philippine side and sign a draft agreement on the transfer of persons sentenced to penalties of deprivation of liberty between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of the Philippines.

The Cabinet authorized the Foreign Minister-or his deputy-to discuss with the Ecuadorian side and sign a draft general agreement on cooperation between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the government of the Republic of Ecuador.

The Cabinet approved the final account of the Human Resources Development Fund for the fiscal year 1427/1428H.

The Cabinet approved the amendment of articles (XII) and (V) of the agreement of establishing the International Monetary Fund approved by the Royal Decree No. (5/1/17/2571) dated 18/12/1376H as follows:

First: The provisions of Article (XII), Section VI (f) (3) shall be amended to read as follows: '(3) The Fund may use the member country's currency deposited in the “investment account” for investment purposes determined by the Fund according to the rules and regulations adopted by the Fund with the consent of the majority (70%) of the total voting power, provided that the adopted rules and regulations be consistent with subsequent paragraphs (7), (8) and (9).'

Second: The provisions of Article (XII), Section VI (f) (6) shall be amended to read as follows: '(6) The investment account is cancelled in case of liquidation of the Fund. The investment account may be cancelled or the size of investment may be reduced prior to the liquidation of the Fund with the consent of the majority (70 %) of the total voting power.'

Third: The provisions of Article (V), Section XII (h) shall be amended to read as follows: '(h) The Fund may use the member country's currency deposited in the “special payment account” for investment purposes determined by the Fund, until it is used in the aspects set out in the preceding paragraph (f), according to the rules and regulations adopted by the Fund with the consent of the majority (70%) of the total voting power. The revenue rose from investment as well as the interest shall be deposited in the special payment account, in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph (f) (2).'

Fourth: The decision also included a provision adding a new paragraph to Article (V) governing the implications for the Fund to sell gold holdings bought before the second amendment to this agreement and how to deal with such a situation.

The Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of communications, information technology and mail between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Communication Technologies of the Republic of Tunisia which was signed in Riyadh on 10/01/2009.

On the other hand, Israeli warplanes have hit southern Gaza with missiles in response to rocket fire from Palestinian militants, the military said.

The air strikes reportedly hit Gaza's disused Yasser Arafat airport near the border town of Rafah, but no injuries have been reported.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, says it halted firing rockets after a major Israeli offensive in 2009.

But other Palestinian militant groups have continued to shell Israeli towns.

The Israeli Defense Force says that more than 20 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli towns near the border with Gaza this year.

Most of the unguided missiles do not hit their targets. There have been several Israeli air strikes in recent months targeting tunnel operators who smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip.

Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, after Hamas pushed out the forces of its more secular rival Fatah, which the Islamic movement had beaten in elections the previous year.

Israel and Egypt currently deny entry into Gaza for all but the basic humanitarian supplies.

In Beirut, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said Monday that no one in Lebanon is planning to wage any aggression on Israel and Israel does not own any valid pretext to launch any attack, the country's state-run National News Agency reported.

In remarks to a visiting delegation from the Lebanese Editors Syndicate in presidential palace near Beirut, Suleiman said that Israel always undermines the political stability in Lebanon.

"The success of our regime tampers on the enemy's conviction," said Suleiman, adding "the economic stability in Lebanon does not suit Israel especially after its fiasco in drawing the attention on all cultural, economic, and service levels."

Israel has warned that the Lebanese government, not the Shiite armed group Hezbollah, would be solely responsible for any attack from Lebanon to Israel, and Lebanon's infrastructure will be targeted by Israeli retaliation instead of only Hezbollah's strongholds.

Israel accuses Hezbollah of rearming in south Lebanon after the two sides waged a 34-day war in the summer of 2006, but Hezbollah has always denied it.

Also in Beirut, President Sleiman called on Spain King Juan Carlos I to enforce the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 as he slammed Israel for hindering any progress on the Mideast peace process. Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union which coincides with the presence of Lebanon, since January 1, as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council.

Juan Carlos arrived in Beirut Monday afternoon in a first visit carried out by a Spanish Head of State to Lebanon following Sleiman’s visit to Spain in October 2009.

During an honorary dinner held at Baabda Presidential Palace, Sleiman called for the promotion of Lebanese-Spanish bilateral ties as he highlighted cooperation between both countries when it comes to fighting terrorism.

Sleiman also highlighted the Madrid Peace Initiative upon which the Arab Peace Initiative was launched in 2002, and also praised Spain’s efforts to reach a comprehensive peace deal as well as its participation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The Arab Peace Initiative calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since June 1967, as well as Israel’s acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, Arab states would establish full and normal relations with Israel.

Sleiman also called on the international community to pressure Israel to halt its threats against Lebanon while stressing that Israel rejected peace as it continued to build settlements.

The Spanish King’s trip comes just days after Spain took over command of the UNIFIL, which was set up in 1978 to monitor Lebanon’s border with Israel.

UNIFIL counts almost 12,000 troops from 29 countries. Italy has the largest contingent with 2,500 soldiers, while Spain contributes 1,070 soldiers.

On Tuesday, the Spanish King is scheduled to visit the “Miguel de Cervantes Base, headquarters of the Spanish contingent in UNIFIL in Marjayoun, where he will be received by the new Force Commander, General Alberto Cuevas Asarta.

Juan Carlos was accompanied by a large delegation including Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Defense Minister, Carme Chacón, Head of the Royal Household, Alberto Aza, and Spanish Army Chief, General Julio Rodríguez.

Moratinos is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Lebanese counterpart Ali Shami, as well as Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt.

The Spanish Embassy in a statement released Monday stressed support to Lebanon, “a country by which it has stood in its most difficult times and with the government of which political coordination has been intensified in recent months.”