JEDDAH, 4 July 2006 — On the day of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's visit to the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia yesterday condemned Israel's recent incursions into the occupied Palestinian territories, calling it "collective punishment" for the abduction of a 19-year-old Israeli soldier on June 25.
Mubarak had arrived in the Kingdom for a couple of hours on a brief visit to discus the current Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which is being mediated by Egypt. The Egyptian president arrived in Jeddah and was received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
An Arab diplomat in Riyadh told a news agency that the two leaders discussed the situation and Israel's threat "to launch an all-out assault on the Gaza Strip."
Saudi officials say Israel's response is only leading to increased violence, clashes and hostilities.
The weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers chaired by King Abdullah yesterday afternoon at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah blamed Israel for neglecting the option of negotiations with Palestinians.
Culture and Information Minister Iyad Madani said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the council meeting that Israel was converting the Palestinian territory into a detention camp in which the Palestinian people were being subjected to humiliation, hunger and siege. "Israel has also been resorting to collective punishment such as cutting off water and electric supply and medicines," Iyad Madani said in his statement.
"The council of ministers appealed to the nations that maintain close relations with Israel to exercise their influence ... to strive for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian clash and to guarantee the right to Palestinian self-determination."
The minister added that Israel should be pressured by its allies to end its occupation, colonization and control over the Palestinian territories in addition to implementing the agreements and decisions made by international organizations and adopted by Arab summits. It was in the Beirut summit that the Arab leaders declared, for the first time, their willingness to embrace Israel as a Middle East nation with full rights, including normal diplomatic and trade relations with neighbors — including Saudi Arabia — if the Jewish state relinquished control of all Arab territories it occupied in 1967.
King Abdullah proposed the Saudi initiative in March 2002 when he was crown prince.
Abdullah praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's initiative to achieve national unity and integration of the people of diverse groups assuring them equal rights as citizens. Al-Maliki was in the Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday as part of a regional tour.
The Council of Ministers approved an air traffic services agreement between the Kingdom and Niger signed in Jeddah in December.
The agreement stipulated that none of the contracting parties are allowed to charge the airline company of the other country fees in excess of the normal rates charged for the same service using similar aircraft. It allows the airlines company designated by the other to have the right to sell the air transportation products directly or through an agency as the airline wishes. The Cabinet accepted the submission of the commerce and industry minister to fix the amount of bank guarantee for the license for practicing liaison work at government departments at SR10,000.