Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques says doesn’t imagine peace without Jerusalem, Palestine begins and ends with Jerusalem

Abbas: We’re ready to discuss Mitchell’s proposals on condition settlements building be stopped

King Abdullah, Sudanese president discuss regional, int’l developments

President Mubarak discusses with Netanyahu means to revive peace process, lifting siege off Palestinians

Foreign Minister Abul-Gheit says no amendments to Arab peace initiative

Sultan Qaboos bin Said discusses developments with Emir of Kuwait, UAE President

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received President Mahmood Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority.

During the audience, they discussed developments of the Palestinian cause and the stalled peace process in addition to the need for the international community to carry out its duties toward reaching a just and comprehensive solution in the region ensuring for the Palestinian people the establishment of their independent state on their national soil with Alquds as its capital according to resolutions of the international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative.

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh region met with President Mahmood Abbas, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority.

At the outset of the meeting, Governor of Riyadh region welcomed President Abbas and the accompanying delegation, wishing them a pleasant stay in the Kingdom, before discussing the latest developments on the Palestinian arena.

The meeting was attended by Prince Bandar bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Following Israel's killing of six Palestinians in two attacks on Saturday, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel decided to cause a turmoil in the Palestinian territories after peace process stopped.

The killing of six Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank this morning "reveals that the occupation's government has decided to destroy the security and stability of the Palestinian people," said spokesman Nabil Abu Rdineh.

"Israel wants to drag our people to the circle of bloody violence to bypass increasing international pressure on its government that it is responsible for blocking the horizon of the peace process," Abu Rdineh added in remarks published by the official news agency Wafa.

Israeli forces killed six Palestinians, including three militants, in two attacks early Saturday in northern Gaza Strip and West Bank city of Nablus, witnesses and local sources said.

In the first raid, the Israeli troops invaded Nablus city and killed three activists affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.

Ra'ed al-Sarkaji, 38, Ghassan Abu Sharekh, in his 30s, and Anan Soboh were all killed in separated incidents in the city.

Dr. Ghassan Hamdan from the city's hospital told reporters that the Israeli soldier broke into al-Sarkaji's house, killed him in front of his wife who was injured, and they shot dead Abu Sharekh after arresting him.

In another building, the troops killed Soboh who is also a member of pro-Abbas Preventive Security Forces. Anan had got an Israeli amnesty on his previous activities during his service in Fatah's military wing that Abbas had dismantled in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers killed three civilians near a crossing point in northern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that four people were trying to infiltrate into Israel through the security fence near Erez crossing but the army spotted them and opened fire, killing three and wounding the fourth.

Bedouins who live in northern Gaza Strip approached the area on donkey-pulled cars, trying to evacuate the bodies but the Israeli soldiers fired warning shots to force them back. The condition of the fourth Palestinian is still unclear.

Abu Rdineh said the operation in Nablus aimed at undermining the security measures the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) had applied in coordination with the United States which sent a security envoy to oversee the training of pro-Abbas forces.

In the Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamic Hamas movement, there has been an undeclared ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Hamas took over Gaza after routing pro-Abbas forces in June 2007.

Abu Rdineh said that Israel, by killing the three civilians there, was trying to "ruin the truce there."

The violence flared up one day ahead of the first anniversary of Israel's major military operation in the Gaza Strip where about1,400 Palestinians had been killed and thousands of houses and public institutions were destroyed.

It also comes amid stillness in peace talks between Israel and the PNA. The talks stopped when Israel waged Gaza offensive and efforts to resume them have been failing due to the continuation of Israeli settlements building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Abbas said Wednesday the stalled peace process is the reason he will not run for a second term in office.

“The objective is to achieve a final status solution to the Palestinian cause, but the matter is still held up until now and that is why I do not want to run for a second term,” the Palestinian leader said while visiting Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Abbas gave a televised speech in which he said he would not seek reelection in polls scheduled Jan. 24.

The elections commission, however, said that given the rift between Hamas and Fatah, each trying to administer the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, this date would not be possible.

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council extended Abbas’ term in office to June 28.

He has been critical of Israel’s building of settlements in East Jerusalem, an area Palestinians want as their future capital, and has expressed disappointment with the US administration’s stance on the peace process.

An aide to Abbas said that during his visit to Riyadh pledged to use its diplomatic leverage to convince world leaders to put an end to Israeli settlement construction.

Saudi King Abdullah said he would exert pressure on “influential capitals, especially Washington”.

Abbas, who was on a two-day visit to the kingdom, has refused to resume suspended peace talks with Israel without complete Israeli halt to construction in its settlements.

Israel considers East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 war along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to be its sovereign territory and part of its capital.

Dr. Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator of the PLO, in a statement to (Allayam newspaper) the U.S.A administration offered to President Mahmoud Abbas messages of guarantees from the U.S. with regard to Jerusalem and the borders of 1967 and rejection of settlement, but stressed that it is required not to search for exits for the resumption of negotiations and thus it was emphasized that what is required now is to resume negotiations with two things: first, to halt settlement activity including natural growth, in the West Bank and Jerusalem , secondly, to resume negotiations from where they were left off ... This is our position.

Erekat was referring to the meeting held by President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Abu Dhabi before it can declare its support for the position of the Prime Minister with regard to the moratorium and the partial settlement.

Erekat said: " the Americans have presented us with guarantees last October, and we told them that we highly appreciate their posture regarding both settlements and The city of Jerusalem since 1967, both but what is now required for the resumption of the negotiations : first, to stop settlement activity in Jerusalem and elsewhere taking in consideration the natural growth. Second: the resumption of negotiations from the point where they left off ... This is our position. He added: "The issue is not about searching for solutions.

He continued, " we told the U.S. administration, and the European Union more than once, and agreed with Arab states him, we did not put one condition to resume negotiations, when we say the suspension of settlements, in West Bank and Jerusalem, including the natural growth, this is not a requirement but is a commitment to Israel under the road map, as well as when we say, to resume negotiations from the point where they stopped, it is also a commitment to Israel.

Erekat also added: We do not need to search for excuses, the resumption of negotiations is not how to resume negotiations?, But this time foundations and pillars are laid to ensure that the goal of the negotiations which is ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 within a specific timeframe and within total halt to settlements, which is prejudice to the final negotiations status. The presence of guarantees and control teams on the ground."

He stressed that "by the current Israeli government policies of imposing settlement policy , Judaizing Jerusalem, the policy of imposing facts, . and the dictating policy. This Israeli government refuses to resume final status negotiations from the point at which they stopped and refused to stop settlement activities( natural growth), and settlement building in Jerusalem."

He said: "Making peace through the history between the parties to the conflict requires maturity interests of these parties to the degree that the cost of continuation of the conflict much more than the requirements of peacemaking, to far it appears that the requirements of peacemaking in Israel is still much larger than the requirements of the continuing conflict, and the requirements of the continuing conflict is the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, building settlements, Judaizing Jerusalem ,the siege ,closure and assassination. "

Meanwhile, Israel has approved a plan to promote the construction of 14 structures in northern settlement of Kiryat Netafim in the occupied West Bank, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said, quoting a radio station.

The Israeli defense ministry on Tuesday approved the Kiryat Netafim construction plans to legalize the construction of 14 structures, the paper quoted the Israel Army Radio as saying on Wednesday.

On the other hand King Abdullah and Sudanese President Omar Hasan Albashir co-chaired the talks held by the Saudi-Sudanese sides at the king's ranch in Riyadh.

During the talks, the two sides discussed boosting cooperation between the two countries in all fields and the two countries' positions on Arab, Islamic and international developments.

The talks were attended by Prince Mishaal bin Abdulaziz, President of Allegiance-Pledge Commission; Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General; Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; a number of other princes and senior officials.

King Abdullah held a dinner in honor of Sudanese President Albashir and the accompanying delegation.

The banquet was attended by Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General; Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; a number of other princes and senior officials.

Sudan's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdulhafez Ibrahim Mohammed has said the visit of Sudan's President Bashir to the Kingdom comes in the context of continuing consultations and contacts between the leaderships of the two countries in the service of bilateral and Arab interests under the current circumstances, commending the effective and influential role of the Kingdom at regional and international arenas.

In a press statement, he said that the visit comes as confirmation of Sudan's position and full solidarity with the Kingdom in practicing its legitimate right to protect its territory and its citizens.

The Ambassador noted that the visit was an opportunity for the Sudanese President to congratulate Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General on his safe return home and recovery after a successful treatment journey.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Cairo Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in talks aimed at bringing Egyptian pressure on the Palestinians ahead of a flurry of diplomatic activity expected next week, including a visit from US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

The Israelis appear to be seeking more movement toward peace talks on the part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, given what Netanyahu says are unprecedented moves toward peace by halting settlement construction in the West Bank. The 10-month freeze does not include East Jerusalem, where Israeli officials said they would build another 700 housing units, raising ire among Palestinians and summoning criticism from the Obama administration.

The Palestinian Authority under Abbas has said it will not return to peace talks unless Israel has a full settlement freeze, including not just the West Bank, but East Jerusalem as well.

Mitchell, on his visit, is expected to present a new draft for resuming peace talks. Netanyahu was quoted in Tuesday's Yedioth Ahronoth as saying that his government had taken "courageous steps for the sake of peace that no other government has taken, but the Palestinians have imposed difficulties and preconditions and have climbed a high tree." He added, according to the interview: "The time for excuses is over, and the time for action has arrived.”

The comments seem to reflect an outlook that Netanyahu is trying to portray to the world: that he has done everything in his power so far to bring about a new era in peace talks, and that it's time for the Palestinian leadership to come forward with bold moves as well. "Everyone wants to make sure it looks like the ball is in the other guy's court," says Mark Heller, an analyst on the Middle East conflict at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. In that way, he says, Netanyahu will be able to tell Barack Obama, who has made the peace process a foreign policy priority, that he's made as many overtures as he can without endangering the stability of his own government.

The talks, which Netanyahu's office characterized as held in a "friendly atmosphere" and "thorough," also focused on a long-anticipated prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas. Israel is expected to exchange between 900 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for its captive soldier, Sgt. Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza since mid-2006.

Though the talks have been taking place through a German mediator, Egypt has also played a role and is expected to be the exchange point for Shalit, if and when he is released.

"Israelis at this point don't have a lot of belief in the Egyptians doing something substantial on a diplomatic front, but they are looking to them to increase their control of the border," Heller adds.

Moves to do so, however, have raised anger in Cairo, not only with Egyptians but with international protesters marking the anniversary of the Gaza war, which started this week a year ago.

In Cairo, local press focused on reports of a new Egyptian security wall on the border and autonomous cells of international left-wing activists staging disruptive protests across the capital. Given that, some in Cairo say Netanyahu’s visit is coming at a bad time. There is concern that Egypt has little to gain from the talks and could wake up on Wednesday feeling – and looking – like Israel’s accomplice.

“I am afraid that my country will find itself in the same position that it was this time last year during the Israeli invasion of Gaza,” says Diaa Rashwan, a political analyst at the government-funded Al Ahram Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Egyptian government will look like a partner in Israeli action against Gaza and Palestinians in general, and that also looks like action against the Egyptian people themselves.” For the past week, Egypt’s Gaza woes have been a hotter topic than usual in parliament and the press.

Its leading independent newspaper has published daily reports on the construction of a new underground steel wall along the border with the Gaza town of Rafah, which is meant to sever smugglers’ tunnels used to supply the embargoed Hamas-controlled enclave.

Then there are the activists. Egypt has blocked as many as 2,000 international activists from traveling to its border with Gaza, leaving 500 stranded in the Jordanian port of Aqaba and 1,500 in Cairo.

Unable to deliver their humanitarian supplies, the activists, part of the Gaza Freedom March, have decided to protest at Western embassies and UN buildings across the city, sparking havoc in some neighborhoods with sit-ins and an overwhelming response from Egypt’s feared state security service. On Sunday, between 250 and 300 French nationals staged a sit in outside the French Embassy in the Cairo district of Giza, completely obstructing a major eight-lane thoroughfare and block traffic for three hours. Cairo is unaccustomed to this kind of direct action.

In response, state security corralled the demonstrators onto the sidewalk in front of the embassy and held them there with several hundred baton-wielding riot police for two days. On Tuesday morning, weary-looking French protesters wrapped in black-and-white checkered Palestinian scarves and bright green t-shirts that said “Viva Palestina!” – including a number of elderly women – were being slowly released from their makeshift pen in twos and threes. Some seemed intent on regrouping elsewhere in the city for another protest, while others looked badly shaken and just wanted to leave.

“The police said we have to get out of here now because otherwise they are going to assault us,” said one young girl, who would not give her name. “They say we don’t have a right to be here.” Loubna Amar, another protester leaving the scene of the sit-in, was angry at Egypt for blocking their attempt to travel to Gaza, despite having previously approved their plan to travel to the Rafah crossing.

Gesturing at the bedraggled group of protesters, and the rows of riot police surrounding them, she joked, “we started to call this the Giza Strip.”

Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman, at the Mushrif Palace.

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was present at the meeting.

The two leaders discussed the brotherly relations between the two countries and discussed ways to enhance them in various fields for the benefit of the people of both nations.

The two leaders also discussed a number of subjects of mutual concern to UAE and Oman. They reiterated the importance of mutual visits and continued communication for strengthening the fraternal bond.

They also asserted that the deep-rooted relations between the two countries are an exemplary model for others to follow.

The meeting was also attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and senior officials.