Egypt FM insists Israel’s nukes must come under international surveillance

Israel resumes settlement activities in Jerusalem

Allawi accuses Iraqi government of involvement in attempts on his life

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said Tuesday his country will not stop its calls on Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and submit its facilities to international observation.

Following a meeting here with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano, Abul-Gheit said his country will press ahead with its calls for submitting all Israeli nuclear facilities to international observation, state- run MENA news agency reported.

"I can not imagine any one in Egypt would say that we stop calls for submitting Israeli facilities to the observation of international society represented in the IAEA," he said.

Meanwhile, Abul-Gheit said his meeting with Amano also touched upon ways the international watchdog could help Egypt to carry out its peaceful nuclear program.

"We agreed with Amano on the steps through which the agency could help Egypt to rehabilitate its nuclear plant in Inchass," 60 km east of Cairo, he said.

For his part, Amano said the IAEA is ready to cooperate with Egypt on its peaceful nuclear energy project, unveiling a proposal by the agency to send experts to assess the project and offer consultation.

"We have also discussed the outcome of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and preparations for the 2012 conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons," Abul-Gheit added.

Amano held similar talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Electricity Minister Hassan Younis and members of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.

On the other hand, Israel's right-wing Likud party was to endorse on Thursday settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, with an eye to a building spurt when a moratorium on construction expires in September.

Some 2,500 members of the party's policymaking central committee were to debate a motion that the body "supports building and developing throughout the Land of Israel including ... Greater Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria."

Judea and Samaria are the biblical names for the West Bank.

Greater Jerusalem includes mainly Arab east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed immediately after.

Netanyahu reluctantly imposed a 10-month ban on new building starts last November following months of US demands for gestures to help relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians suspended during the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

The Palestinians nevertheless dismissed the move as insufficient because it did not include projects already under way, public buildings or east Jerusalem, which they claim as the capital of their future state.

Israel's Peace Now group which monitors settlements said last week that so many projects were approved before the "freeze" began that it has done little to slow the expansion of settlements.

Likud MP Ofir Akonis told public radio the motion endorsing settlement expansion was so popular that Netanyahu did not need to attend the meeting, although the premier did support the move.

But central committee chairman Moshe Kahlon, who is also communications minister, insisted that the motion did not make direct reference to the freeze or its September 26 expiry date.

"The debate today is not about the freeze," he told the radio.

Kahlon said Netanyahu would not attend the committee session in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening, but added that there was no political significance to his absence.

Netanyahu is to meet on July 6 with President Barack Obama in the White House. Washington has repeatedly criticized West Bank settlement as an obstacle to the peace process.

"The last thing (Netanyahu) needs is that two weeks before the meeting with United States President Barack Obama he goes to a meeting of his own party that which seeks to oblige him to build in Judea and Samaria," the radio's political reporter said.

The motion's sponsor, hard-line legislator Danny Danon, said the party would not allow Netanyahu to extend the moratorium.

"After September 26, the freeze is finished," he told the radio.

The Palestinians grudgingly agreed to relaunch indirect US-brokered peace talks with Israel in May but have said they will not move to direct negotiations without a complete settlement freeze including in east Jerusalem.

The presence of nearly a half million Israelis in more than 120 settlements scattered across the West Bank and east Jerusalem has long been seen as a major threat to the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, Iraq's former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, leader of the winning bloc in parliamentary election confirmed Saturday he got warnings of assassination attempt against him.

"Two months ago, after the elections I received a letter from the multinational forces clearly indicates that there is a plan to assassinate me," Allawi, leader of Iraqia List bloc, said in a statement posted on his official website.

There were "successive warnings from some friends in positions of responsibility and one of them is from the Iraqi defense minister," he said.

Allawi said the warnings also include details like "there were plans to prepare for the assassination by a bomb in my plane."

He complained that he was banned to use the military air base named Muthanna in central Baghdad, while his members of personal protection can not access to the civilian airport.

Allawi said he was warned that the assassination would be carried out "by snipers during traffic either on the airport road or inside the airport."

This statement came just one day after a new wave of violence swept across Iraq on Friday, leaving at least 15 people dead and 83 others injured.

The secular bloc Iraqia List led by Allawi won the most 91 seats in the 325-seat parliament, followed closely by State of Law coalition headed by Nouri al-Maliki with 89 seats.