Saudi Arabia affirms in New York that peace is solution to end Arab-Israeli conflict

Mahmoud Abbas: The ball is now in U.S., Israeli courts, peace needs honest efforts

Jordan slams Israel’s practices in Jerusalem, Egyptian FM calls for int’l conf. to resolve Palestinian issue

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia asserted that the Arab-Israeli conflict still overshadowed and dominated all the issues in the Middle East as there is no more influential regional conflict on the world peace.

The problem is exacerbating due to the absence of the good will of the Israeli government, which instead of searching in earnest for peace, continues to acquire more of Palestinian territories and build illegal settlements, to create new facts on the ground and continue to kill Palestinians and seize their territories.

In a speech on behalf of the Arab delegations to the UN before the Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question, Acting Charge d'Affaires of the Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Omar bin Ali Al-Aiedi said that this meeting is held at a time when the Israeli government persists in its intransigence and continues its illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem which is a problem that threatens to undermine the entire peace process because it undermines the prospects for a contiguous and viable Palestinian state in the future, making it difficult for any Palestinian government to be able to work effectively or persuade the Palestinians on the possibility of achieving peace at the time the sanctions are imposed unethically on the people living under occupation while the occupation authorities continue in their practices with no accountability.

Al-Aiedi pointed out that peace is the only way to achieve security for Palestinians and Israelis alike, but we doubt the intentions of Israel due to its failure to provide any serious peace initiatives, stalling negotiations and relying on unilateral measures which will never bring peace. He added that it is high time for Israel to realize that it cannot continue to exempt itself from complying with the rules of international behavior based on the rules of international law.

Al-Aiedi called on the council's countries to take a collective position clearly reflecting their unanimous opposition to the continuation of Israeli settlement activities which most of them expressed in separate statements previously.

He added that the Arab countries clearly expressed through the Arab peace initiative launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut their commitment to achieving the just and comprehensive peace based on the rules of international law but the Arab peace initiative did not find a mutual commitment from Israel. So it is very important that there should be a tendency to revive the peace process and Israel should deal honestly and seriously with the peace process, including an immediate halt to settlement activities and to begin dismantling the settlements instead of increasing them.

'The freezing of the peace process, the current practices of the siege on Gaza, subsequent humanitarian disasters and military attacks against the Palestinian people - through which Israel proves that it is above the law - increase the attractiveness of radical impulses and feelings of despair and frustration, which reached to a very serious level, pointing out that the Security Council must deal with the Arab and Muslim growing impression that the international community lacks the seriousness and credibility and that the Security Council is in an impasse of not being able to implement its decisions, an impasse resulting from the double standards in relations between states and the use of the 'veto' to disable the council from carrying out the tasks entrusted to the council for serving the interests of the affected States.

Al-Aiedi said the council's exit from this impasse will lead all members of the United Nations to adhere to and respect its resolutions and restore credibility to the council in carrying out its role in the maintenance of international peace and security.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian newspaper this week reported that the United States has not yet talked with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about a new peace plan in the Middle East.

In an interview with the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper, Abbas said that Washington should endorse the references of the peace process in its plan, which include the fact that the borders of the Palestinian state combine the lands that Israel has occupied in 1967. Abbas also said the plan should refer to an equal swap of land.

As for the security, Abbas suggested that a third party should oversee it for a certain time, demanding also an end to the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

"Let's agree on these three issues in order to start direct negotiations," Abbas said, adding once serious peace talks resume, "they do not need more than one week to reach an agreement."

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration will reveal a new policy towards the Middle East, adding that the stillness of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was "no more sustainable."

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were halted in September 2010. The Palestinians walked out of the U.S.-brokered negotiations, protesting the resumption of Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could not hope to forge a peace deal with Israel if he pursued a reconciliation accord with the Islamist group Hamas.

"The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both," Netanyahu said after the two Palestinian groups announced they had overcome past differences.

Netanyahu is expected to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress during a visit to Washington next month where he plans to outline his plan to re-start frozen peace talks with Abbas's Palestinian Authority that controls the occupied West Bank.

Talks opened last September with the aim of an accord in one year, but quickly broke down after Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

But top Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdaineh said the reconciliation did not concern Israel.

"The agreement between Fatah and Hamas movements is an internal affair and has nothing to do with Israel. Netanyahu must choose between a just peace with the united Palestinian people ... and settlements," Abu Rdaineh said.

In his televised statement, Netanyahu said Israel could not accept Hamas as a negotiating partner because it "aspires to destroy Israel, it says so publicly, it fires rockets on our cities, it fires anti-tank rockets on our children."

He said the surprise announcement of a reconciliation deal "exposes the Palestinian Authority's weakness and raises questions whether Hamas will take hold of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as it took hold of the Gaza Strip."

Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip in a brief, bloody civil war in 2007 when it ousted Abbas's administration. Abbas's more secular Fatah faction controls the West Bank.

Netanyahu added in his Hebrew statement that it was up to Abbas's administration to decide its upcoming steps.

"I hope that the Palestinian Authority will make the correct decision, that it will choose peace with Israel. The choice is in its hands," he said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el- Arabi called for an international conference to reach a comprehensive solution for the Palestinian cause.

In talks with visiting U.S. Senator John McCain, Arabi stressed the importance of urgent work towards peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, according to Egypt's foreign ministry statement.

Efforts should be exerted to reach an ultimate and fair solution and the involved parties should avoid prolonged negotiations that do not achieve any real political steps, Arabi added.

The talks covered the latest developments in the region, McCain 's visit to Libyan rebels-held Benghazi and results of his meeting with the Libyan opposition.

McCain called on the international community to deliver more aid to the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC) after his one-day visit to Benghazi.

With a September target for an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty looming, the United Nations and the Palestinians called for bold leadership from the U.S. and key Mideast mediators to revive the stalled negotiations.

At a daylong open meeting of the U.N. Security Council, speakers from about 45 countries were virtually unanimous in expressing frustration that time was passing quickly with no sign that Palestinians and Israelis would be heading back to the negotiating table.

Riad Mansour, the top Palestinian diplomat at the U.N., reaffirmed to the council that the Palestinians are determined to end Israel's occupation and become an independent state by the September target set by the Quartet of Mideast mediators and endorsed by President Barack Obama.

He said the Palestinians want the Quartet — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — to demonstrate "bold leadership" and endorse the outlines of a peace agreement proposed by Britain, France and Germany.

Their proposal calls for an immediate halt to settlement activity by the Israelis, a solution to the question of Palestinian refugees, and agreement on the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both countries and on borders before the 1967 Mideast war, with approved land swaps. It also calls for security arrangements that respect Palestinian sovereignty and protect Israel, and prevent a resurgence of terrorism.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Meron Reuben repeated Israel's call for the Palestinians to rejoin direct talks "without delay," but made no mention of settlements or the Quartet.

Quartet meetings to discuss the European proposal have been repeatedly postponed by the United States, Israel's closest ally, which said last week that it didn't think a meeting would produce anything that would help restart direct talks.

While the United States is part of the Quartet, it has taken the lead for years in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and there is some indication Washington wants to maintain that leadership.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently that Obama plans to make a speech in the coming weeks on the Mideast, and some U.N. diplomats are speculating that he might outline the parameters of a final Israeli-Palestinian settlement.

Germany's U.N. Ambassador called on the Quartet to try to make progress on the framework for a peace agreement, but stressed to the Security Council that "strong U.S. leadership is required." He added that Germany is looking forward to Obama's speech.

U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe, lamenting the stalemate in negotiations, said the U.N. is also working for a Quartet initiative that could restart negotiations. He added that the four Quartet members are committed to holding a meeting "as soon as possible."

"Bold and decisive steps are needed to resolve this decades-long conflict, with vision, leadership and responsibility from all concerned," he stressed.

Obama announced in September 2010, as U.S.-brokered direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed, that a peace treaty should be signed in a year, but those talks collapsed weeks later after Israel ended its freeze on building settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians.

The Palestinians insist they will not resume peace talks until Israel stops building settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — lands it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel maintains that the Palestinians should not be setting "conditions" ahead of negotiations and that settlement building didn't stop them negotiating in the past.

At the council meeting last week, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice reiterated U.S. opposition to Israeli settlement building, but stressed that negotiations between the two parties are "the only path to a solution that resolves all issues."

Although the Palestinians' preference is a negotiated peace agreement with Israel, they are also working to build international support so they can go to the U.N. in September, if necessary, with strong global backing for statement and U.N. membership.