King urges launch of ‘real’ peace process

King Abdullah on Monday called for launching a “real” Mideast peace process and an end to Palestinian-Israeli violence, following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip.“These circumstances require us to work, to our utmost ability, to help Palestinians and Israelis end the cycle of violence, and launch a real peace process that can realise the hopes and aspirations of the region’s peoples to live in security and stability and to build a better future for Palestinians and Israelis,” the King said at a four-way Middle East summit in Egypt.

The Monarch told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the region is passing through a “critical phase, and amidst the extraordinary suffering of the Palestinian people”.

“The dangerous events in the Gaza Strip over the past days should be an incentive for all of us to move forward on the path we accept for our people, the path of security and peace, based on the restoration of the Palestinian people’s rights guaranteed by international resolutions.”

He said “appropriate atmosphere” is needed to launch peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

“This requires support for Palestinian legitimacy, which is represented by the Palestinian Authority, an end to the siege imposed on the Palestinian people, the release of the authority’s frozen funds and the removal of constraints that limit the movement and mobility of the Palestinian people. This should be in exchange for a complete and candid Palestinian commitment to, and respect for, the agreements and international conventions signed by the two parties.”

Earlier in the day, the King held talks with Mubarak and Olmert, a Royal Court statement said.

At a meeting with the Egyptian president, the King stressed the need to set a work plan and a timetable for peace negotiations in the coming few weeks.

The two leaders agreed that the latest developments in Gaza “do not serve the interests of the Palestinians and the Palestinian cause”.

They expressed their support for efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people and lift international sanctions imposed on them.

During his talks with Olmert, the King called on Israel to take confidence-building measures with the Palestinians, paving the way for relaunching the peace process and achieving a just solution to the problem.

These steps should include releasing Palestinian prisoners, freezing Jewish settlement expansion and halting excavations near the Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, the statement quoted the King as saying.

He said Israel should deal with the Arab Peace Initiative in a “serious manner”, saying the plan represents an appropriate framework to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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