President Mahmoud Abbas reiterates Palestinians’ resolve to seek UN membership

International Quartet representatives start separate meetings with Palestinians, Israelis in Jerusalem

Netanyahu is a liar, Sarkozy tells Obama

Jordan slams Netanyahu’s alleged plans to establish Palestinian state there

New schemes to build 60,000 Israeli settlement units in Jerusalem

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas laid a wreath of flowers on the tomb of late President Yasser Arafat on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

Abbas said in a statement to the reporters after he laid the wreath that he hopes next Eid Palestinian people, Jerusalem and the entire Palestinian Territory will be liberated, a Palestinian state established and all the prisoners released, wishing the Palestinians a happy life.

He said that the Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people and their national authority did not stop, on the contrary Israel recently increased the settlements’ expansion in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank, in addition to the punishments it imposes on Palestinians, withholding the Palestinian funds.

Abbas added the vicious Israeli attack increased after applying for membership of the State of Palestine in the United Nations, and gaining full membership in UNESCO, but in spite of that “we will continue with our bid.”

Regarding the Palestinian request to the UN Security Council, Abbas said, “We will discuss all issues in time. We have submitted the application to the Security Council and we are waiting for the international responses.'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a liar" in a private conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama that was accidentally broadcast to journalists during last week's G20 summit in Cannes.

"I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar," Sarkozy told Obama, unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.

"You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you," Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

The technical gaffe is likely to cause great embarrassment to all three leaders as they look to work together to intensify international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

The conversation was not initially reported by the small group of journalists who overheard it because it was considered private and off-the-record. But the comments have since emerged on French websites and can be confirmed by Reuters.

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the conversation when asked by reporters traveling with Obama to an event in Philadelphia.

Obama's apparent failure to defend Netanyahu is likely to be leapt on by his Republican foes, who are looking to unseat him in next year's presidential election and have portrayed him as hostile to Israel, Washington's closest ally in the region.

Pushing Netanyahu risks alienating Israel's strong base of support among the U.S. public and in Congress.

Netanyahu's office declined to comment, but one of his deputies, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, played down the episode.

"Everyone talks about everyone. Sometimes even good friends say things about each other, certainly in such competitive professions," Shalom, a former foreign minister and rival of Netanyahu in the rightist Likud party, told Israel's Army Radio.

"So you have to consider the main things. Is Obama a friend of Israel? Is Sarkozy a friend of Israel? Is their policy a consistent policy of support for Israel? The answer to all of these questions is affirmative and, as far as I'm concerned, that is what's important."

Obama and Netanyahu have had a rocky relationship as U.S. efforts to broker a Middle East peace deal have foundered, with the U.S. president openly criticizing Jewish settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It was unclear why exactly Sarkozy had criticized Netanyahu.

However, European diplomats have largely blamed Israel for the breakdown in peace talks and have expressed anger over Netanyahu's approval of large-scale settlement building.

During their bilateral meeting on November 3, on the sidelines of the Cannes summit, Obama criticized Sarkozy's surprise decision to vote in favor of a Palestinian request for membership of the U.N. cultural heritage agency UNESCO.

"I didn't appreciate your way of presenting things over the Palestinian membership of UNESCO. It weakened us. You should have consulted us, but that is now behind us," Obama was quoted as saying.

The October 31 UNESCO vote marked a success for the Palestinians in their broader thrust for recognition as a sovereign state in the U.N. system -- a unilateral initiative fiercely opposed by Israel and the United States.

As a result of the vote, Washington was compelled to halt its funding for UNESCO under a 1990s law that prohibits Washington from giving money to any U.N. body that grants membership to groups that do not have full, legal statehood.

Obama told Sarkozy that he was worried about the impact if Washington had to pull funding from other U.N. bodies such as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the IAEA nuclear watchdog if the Palestinians gained membership there.

"You have to pass the message along to the Palestinians that they must stop this immediately," Obama said.

The day the conversation took place, the Palestinians announced that they would not seek membership of any other U.N. agency.

Sarkozy confirmed that France would not take any unilateral decisions when the U.N. Security Council discusses a Palestinian membership request, a debate expected later this month.

"I am with you on that," Obama replied.

Media sources reported that King Abdullah of Jordan stated that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking the collapse of the Hashemite Kingdom by transforming it into an alternative country for the Palestinians.

The king added that Netanyahu does not believe in the two-state solution with the Palestinians.

His statements came, two days ago, during an interview with the Washington Post, in which he also stated that Netanyahu and his government toppled the two-state solution, and do not have any clear political plan to resolve the conflict.

“It is clear that this government wants to cause the collapse of the peace process in the region”, King Abdullah added, “We believe that Netanyahu and his government are trying to push Jordan into becoming an alternative homeland for the Palestinian people”.

Responding to a question regarding the possibility that Egypt would void its peace agreement with Israel, and the effects of the Arab Spring, the Monarch stated that what happened in Egypt, and the attack against the Israeli embassy in Cairo, in addition to the declining Turkish-Israeli relations, could push the Egyptian government to void its peace deal with Tel Aviv, adding that the ongoing policies of the Netanyahu government also threaten the Israeli-Jordanian relations.

King Abdullah further stated that "it seems clear that Israel is systematically acting to weaken the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, in order to force its collapse", adding that this would be the first step before the whole peace process in the region collapses, allowing Israel to implement its agenda of transforming Jordan into Palestine and voiding the two-state solution.

Meanwhile, Hebrew media sources revealed a strategic plan of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem which aims to build more than 60,000 new settler residential units in Jerusalem over the next 20 years.

Maariv said on Sunday that a Jerusalem municipality document shows that 60718 new residential unit, most of them (53,000) will be built in settlements in East Jerusalem.

According to the document, most of the land for building these units lies in East Jerusalem. 24,000 units have already been approved by the planning committee, only 3,500 of them will be built in West Jerusalem. Planning applications have been submitted for another 13,500 more units awaiting approval.

Plans for another 23,266 more units are being prepared.

According to data in the document the land on which these units will be built lie in north eastern Jerusalem, such as Besgat Zeiv settlement, Nevieh Yacub settlement and Arab suburbs: Beit Hanian and Shefat, The building of more than 10,000 units will start straight away, planning permissions for half of them have already been obtained and the other half still awaiting permission.

According to municipality data, 10,934 units will be built, half of them approved and they will be built in Silwan and in the old city.