Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saudi Asks Israel to Abandon Barrier as a Gesture to Arabs

by Helene Cooper from The New York Times

Israel should stop work on a security barrier in and along the West Bank and halt settlement activity there as a good-will gesture to assure Arab states that it is serious about comprehensive peace talks, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said yesterday. The minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, stopped short of making his demand a condition for Arab attendance at a planned Middle East peace conference. And he said that in recent days, he had become encouraged about the prospects for the conference, which the United States is to sponsor in November. But he would not promise that Saudi Arabia would attend, a major Israeli objective ... Prince Saud said that for any peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians to work, Hamas must be brought into another national unity government with Fatah. He said that if the international community had accepted the Palestinian national unity government in February, when Saudi Arabia brokered an accord establishing the government, Hamas might have eventually renounced violence against Israel. He called that "water under the bridge now," but added that Saudi Arabia still wanted to establish another national unity government between Hamas and Fatah.

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