Arafat Meets Saudi Leaders to Mobilize Arab States on Jerusalem
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat met with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah on Sunday in a bid to mobilize Arab states on the issue of Jerusalem that wrecked the Camp David peace summit with Israel.
The official Saudi news agency SPA said Arafat, who flew in from Paris to launch a tour of the Arab world, held talks with the crown prince in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The Palestinian president was to "ask the advice" of Crown Prince Abdullah and King Fahd on "the best action to take to defend the Arab identity of Jerusalem and extend Palestinian Arab sovereignty" to the Holy City, an adviser to Arafat said.
"Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab, Islamic and Christian red line," Nabil Abu Rudeina told reporters.
He said the Palestinians wanted an Arab summit to discuss the peace process, "either a restricted summit or an expanded one, so long as it is held as soon as possible."
The Palestinian leader "believes that an Arab summit is needed more than ever. We hope the Arab world will be able to send a clear message (to Israel) that we are for peace but not a peace at any price," he said.
According to Palestinian sources in Gaza, Arafat was to travel on to Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan.
Riyadh threw its weight behind the Palestinian stand at the Camp David peace summit which collapsed on July 25th, while Saudi newspapers on Sunday slammed US President Bill Clinton over the crucial issue of Jerusalem.
"The American president does not have the right to give orders to Arab countries concerning the Palestinian cause so that they put pressure on President Arafat," Al-Jazira newspaper said.
In an interview on Israeli TV broadcast Friday, Clinton praised the "courageous" efforts of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the marathon Camp David summit and said the US embassy could be moved from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem.
He also warned Arafat against going ahead with a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood on September 13th.
The next day, Arafat said during a visit to Paris that he would consider declaring a state "when the time is right," an apparent shift after repeated vows that the state would be proclaimed even without a peace deal with Israel.
"We will consider declaring a state when the time is right, taking into consideration the advice of our friends," he said.
Although blamed by both the United States and Israel for the failure of the talks, Arafat has won widespread acclaim among Arabs for refusing to accept Israel's "concessions" at Camp David -- JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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