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Saudi king reaffirms support for Palestinian state

FILE: In this photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi King Salman, center right, walks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on his arrival to Riyadh Airbase, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.
(AP Photo/SPA)

Saudi King Salman said Tuesday the kingdom was committed to an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital ahead of a US-led conference on Middle East peace and security.

The monarch was speaking during a meeting with visiting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Riyadh.

King Salman said his country "permanently stands by Palestine and its people's right to an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital", reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

The pledge comes as the United States is expected to offer hints of its proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians at a conference in Poland.

Announcing the two-day conference last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that foreign ministers from around the world would attend to take up the "destabilizing influence" of Iran in the Middle East.

But with most major European powers sending low-level representation, the United States and Poland have toned down the agenda, saying the gathering is not focused on Iran but rather looking more broadly at the Middle East.

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who has been putting the final touches on a "deal of the century" for the Middle East, will make a rare speaking appearance on Thursday.

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Kushner, whose family is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is not expected to unveil the proposal until after the April 9 election in Israel.

Pompeo stressed last month that the long awaited Middle East peace plan efforts will begin “immediately” following the Israeli elections on April 9.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time. Mr. (Jared) Kushner has been in the lead along with Jason Greenblatt in developing our program. We’ve begun to share elements of this across the region. It won’t be a US-driven process,” Pompeo said.

“Ultimately, the Israelis and the Palestinians will have to come to an agreement. But we think that the foundations that we have laid and the work that we’ll do immediately following the Israeli elections will set conditions where we can have a constructive conversation,” Pompeo continued.

Kushner will reportedly visit the Middle East at end of this month, during which he will make a stop in Saudi Arabia.

The Trump administration faces an difficult task in selling any deal to the Palestinian Authority, which remains livid over his landmark 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem -- claimed by both peoples -- as Israel's capital.

The Palestinian government -- which has labelled the Warsaw conference an "American conspiracy" -- has refused talks with the United States until it starts what it calls a more balanced policy.

Thomas COEX (AFP)

Last week, Abbas said that the United States "is no longer qualified to act as the sole mediator due to its bias toward Israel and its decisions against international law on Jerusalem, refugees and others."

Israeli ministers have also voiced concern over the peace plan. Co-chair of the “New Right” Party Naftali Bennett threatened on Tuesday to quit a Netanyahu-led coalition government should Trump’s peace plan call for a Palestinian state.

“I want to clearly state this in a way that cannot be misconstrued in any way: the new right, facing the Trump Peace proposal, will not enter a government that intends on establishing a Palestinian state, period!” the minister of education told his interlocutor at the Jerusalem Conference organized by Besheva.

In November last year, Bennett's colleague from the "New Right", Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, called the peace plan a "waste of time".

"I think that the gap between the Israelis and Palestinians is much too big to be bridged. I think personally it's a waste of time," Shaked said at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.



How about instead, move all the pallys to the already existing pally state...jordan, and allowed the peaceful ones to visit east jerusalem. Or better yet, blow the disgraceful al asqa terror done off the temple mount and rebuild it in jordan, or a sewage dump.

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