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King Tells Palestinians to Unite

AMMAN, 28 June 2007 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who arrived here yesterday on the last leg of his five-nation tour, urged Palestinian groups to stand united to protect their national interests. He warned that their continuing infighting would destroy all hope of setting up an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The Saudi leader and his delegation received an unprecedented welcome from Jordan’s King Abdallah and other senior officials. Thousands of Jordanians, including tribal leaders in traditional dress, stood along roads to cheer the king and his entourage waving pictures of him and Saudi flags. Amman had a festive look with colorful banners welcoming the Saudi ruler. King Abdullah enjoys wide popularity in Jordan because of his stand on Arab and Islamic issues. Both kings later held a meeting and discussed major regional and international issues. Their talks covered the outcome of the four-party summit meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh and the efforts to achieve a just Middle East peace settlement, the situation in Iraq and Lebanon as well as ways to strengthen bilateral ties. In an interview with Jordan’s Al-Rai Arabic daily, the Saudi king spoke about his brotherly relations with Jordan’s king. “Our relationship is based on mutual love and confidence. We always keep in touch and exchange views in order to serve the interests of both countries and the Ummah.” He also underscored the deep-rooted relations between the two neighbors. In a press statement, the Jordanian king said King Abdullah’s visit would strengthen strategic relations between the two Arab countries. He praised the Saudi leader’s role in bolstering Arab unity and solidarity, and said the Arab peace plan initiated by King Abdullah could put an end to years of wars and conflicts in the region if all parties agreed to implement the plan. In his wide-ranging interview with the Jordanian daily, King Abdullah emphasized his government’s resolve to go ahead with political and economic reforms. “We believe in gradual changes for the better,” he said when asked about possible elections to the consultative Shoura Council. “Elections in the Kingdom are determined by political and social changes and the interests of the country and Saudi society. There are several platforms now open to citizens to express their views. These include the weekly majlis, the Shoura, regional and municipal councils and the media.” The king said he was looking forward to the Shoura playing a more active role in the decision-making process. King Abdullah blamed Israel and world powers for making the situation worse in Palestine. “The situation after the Makkah Accord was promising and positive but three months after the agreement was signed, the situation deteriorated. Israel’s stubbornness and the refusal by some world powers to help the Palestinians cement understanding between them led to this deterioration,” he explained. The Saudi king called upon the Palestinian leaders to shoulder their responsibility toward their people. “The present situation (fighting between Fatah and Hamas) should not be allowed to continue as it will serve the usurpers of Palestinian territory and harm the just Palestinian cause. It will also destroy the hope of setting up an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” On Tuesday, the Saudi king told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that his country would be willing to resume inter-Palestinian mediation, Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said. “Yes, this is very much on the table,” Awad told reporters following the meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh. “We need some time for the spirits to calm down, for the verbal clashes to subside. We need time to create a climate conducive to mediating between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in order to sort out their differences.” Mubarak on Monday called for the resumption of dialogue between the rival factions during the summit which brought Jordan’s King Abdallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert together for the first time since Abbas sacked his Hamas-led unity government. “The resumption of dialogue between all the children of Palestine, and the achievement of a common position that speaks for its people and its cause is an immediate requirement that can brook no delay,” the Egyptian president said. In his interview, King Abdullah also spoke about the Kingdom’s stand on Iraq and Lebanon. He called upon Iraqis to give priority to their national interest over their tribal and regional interests. The Saudi leader expressed his readiness to invite Iraqi political leaders for a dialogue if it would lead to positive results. “The destiny of Iraq will be determined by its people and their independent will,” he added. While underlining the Kingdom’s historic role in Lebanon in terms of reconciling its groups and reconstructing the country after civil war, Abdullah called upon the country’s political forces to talk to each other as partners in order to end their differences and work for their national interests. He warned that any outside interference would worsen the present crisis in Lebanon. He called upon Arab countries to double their efforts to end the Lebanese crisis. He said the Kingdom was working to solve Arab problems because of its responsibility and not to compete with any other country. “We believe that any negligence on our part in carrying out our responsibility would have unpleasant consequences. If service for the Ummah is competition, let’s all compete with one another in this matter,” he added. Arab countries if united, can confront any challenges, the king said. “Disunity is the main reason for our weakness.” King Abdullah called upon the international community to support the Arab peace plan that offers Israel full diplomatic relations if it withdraws from all Arab territories occupied in 1967 and allows the creation of a Palestinian state and the return of Palestinian refugees. “Most countries have supported the Arab plan. The leaders of Spain, France and Poland which I visited recently have also voiced their support for the initiative,” he added. The king opposed the foreign media move to divide Arab countries into moderates and extremists. “We in Saudi Arabia do not care for such classifications and cooperate with all Arab countries. Our Arab brethren should know such moves are aimed at sowing sedition and creating division among us. The Berlin Wall has fallen and there is no way to build a wall between the Arabs,” he stated. Abdullah commended the role being played by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a model for Arab joint work. The Saudi leader, who is the current president of the GCC, opposed the move to exaggerate the differences among its member states on certain issues. “Such differences have occurred in the past but never affected the GCC’s forward march.” Abdullah said the Kingdom would continue its anti-terror campaign until the phenomenon had been totally eradicated from the country. “Terrorism is an international phenomenon fueled by deviant thoughts,” he said, adding that Islam would never approve of terrorist actions that kill innocent people and destroy public and private institutions and properties.


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