- JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP)
- The Gulf Cooperation CouncilFriday called for "total" Palestinian
sovereignty over east Jerusalem.
- Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, speaking on behalf
of the group his country currently leads, also denounced what he said was
Israeli "intransigence" in peace talks with the Palestinians.
- The GCC groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates.
- Its foreign ministers have gathered in Jeddah for two
days of talks expected to put the Middle East peace process at the top
of the agenda.
- The fate of the holy city of Jerusalem is at the centre
of the latest impasse in the peace process, as well as Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat's on-again, off-again plans to declare an independent state
- In his remarks at the beginning of the meeting, Faisal
said Israel's position during the failed Camp David summit in July was
contrary to the principles for negotiations set out at a meeting in Madrid
- He said it was also contrary to international resolutions
on east Jerusalem, which is holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims.
- Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan during the
1967 Arab-Israeli war. It later annexed that territory, declaring it to
be part of an eternal and unified capital.
- That is rejected by the Palestinians, who want east Jerusalem
as capital of a future state, and by the international community.
- A United Nations Security Council resolution passed in
1967 calls for Israel to withdraw from all territories captured during
the war, which includes east Jerusalem.
- A "just and durable peace cannot be established
without a just resolution" of the Jerusalem question, Faisal said.
- Concretely, that would guarantee "the rights of
Arabs and Muslims" and respect "Palestinian sovereignty over
Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock" Islamic holy
- Turning to Israel's negotiating posture, Faisal said
"each time we think there is a breakthrough in the peace process,
we find ourselves up against Israeli intransigence."
- He said "Israel commits a grave error in thinking
that the peace process can advance" if the right of Palestinian refugees
to return home and to an independent state on "national territory"
- "And Israel commits an even greater error if it
believes that the Arab and Muslim world will keep silent in the face of
unilateral measures in the holy city" of Jerusalem.
- He said the pursuit of this policy could "sabotage
the peace process and open the way to a new outbreak of violence and of
tension throughout the region."
- The GCC meeting comes only three days after the Al-Quds
(Jerusalem) committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, meeting
in Morocco, issued a statement reject any limitation on Palestinian sovereignty
over east Jerusalem.
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