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Why Palestine Won Big at the UN

An instructive week after Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip tested Israel on the battlefield, the pacifist politicians who govern the West Bank  notched a significant diplomatic win without much of a fight at all.  Just before 5 p.m. New York time, the  United Nations General Assembly voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to bring Palestine aboard as a “non-member state.”  Another 41 nations abstained. Assured of passage by a whopping majority, Israel and the United States noted their objections mildly and mostly for the record, their effort to limit the fallout for the Jewish state itself limited in the wake of Gaza.

The status of “non-member state” — emphasis on the “state” —  puts Palestine the same level of diplomatic recognition as the Vatican, which is technically a sovereign entity. The Holy See has its own ambassadors but, for a few, may be better known for its busy post office off St. Peter’s Square, where tourists queue for what quiet thrills are afforded by a Vatican stamp cancelled with the Pope’s postmark.

Palestine already has post offices. The particular marker of sovereignty it sought from the U.N. is even more bureaucratic: Access to international organizations, especially the International Criminal Court at The Hague.  Experts on international law say that, armed with the mass diplomatic recognition of the 150 or so nations it counts as supporters, Palestine will be in a position to bring cases against Israel, which has occupied the land defined as Palestine – the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – since 1967.

The ICC, as it’s known, is on record as inclined to regard Israel’s more than 100 residential settlements on the West Bank as a crime of war.  (The Jewish state pulled its settlers and soldiers out of Gaza in 2005, and argues that it no longer qualifies as its “occupier” under international law. Critics argue otherwise.)  The physical presence of the settlements in other words would give Palestine a ready-made case to drag Israel before the court — or to threaten dragging it before the court.  In the dynamics of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the real power lay in the threat.  But in his last UN address, in September, Abbas began to lay the foundation for charges based not on the settlements but on the violent behavior of some individual settlers, who attack Palestinian neighbors and vandalize property and mosques.  Settler attacks have skyrocketed in the last two years, according to UN monitors, and now account for the majority of the political violence on the West Bank, despite the lingering popular impression of Palestinian terrorism dating back decades.  On the West Bank, at least, the reality has changed.

“If you were in my place, what would you do?” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked TIME in a recent interview. “We will not use force against the settlers. I can use the court, but it’s better for the Israelis not to push us to go to the court.  They should put an end to these acts committed by the settlers.”  His address to the General Assembly in advance of the vote Thursday made the stakes plain enough: Abbas blasted Israel for “the perpetration of war crimes” and “its contention that it is above international law.”

Abbas’ effort actually got an unlikely boost from Israel’s eight-day offensive in Gaza.  Operation Pillar of Defense focused on attacking Hamas, the militant Islamist group that has governed Gaza since 2007.  Hamas, and more radical groups also operating in Gaza, lost scores of fighters and rocket launchers to Israeli airstrikes. But by standing up to overwhelming Israeli military power for more than a week – and sending missiles toward major cities previously left untouched – the militants stirred a defiant pride and solidarity across the Palestinian community.

“The armed resistance of Hamas in Gaza gave the people hope and the impressions that this is the only way to fight against the ongoing occupation,” Majed Ladadwah, 46,  told TIME 0n a Ramallah street, in the West Bank.. “I can’t say they won,” said Ladadwah, who works at a bank  “but they surely gained a lot of points for Hamas in the streets of Palestine.”

That logic was pointed out to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she visited Jerusalem to coax him toward a cease-fire.  In the days that followed, Netanyahu’s government stopped threatening to punish Abbas for going to the UN, a move Israel has called a threat to the peace process, which has been stalled for at least four years.

At the same time,  European nations rallied around Abbas, intent on shoring up a leader who is secular, moderate – and already at political risk for cooperating with Israel to suppress armed resistance even before Gaza seized the world’s attention.  Many of the “marquee” countries of Western Europe that Netanyahu had hoped to vote against Palestine statehood, such as France, instead lined up behind Abbas.  Others, including Britain, abstained, after seeking assurances that Palestine will not to go the ICC, or that negotiations with Israel will resume. Abbas has already promised the latter.  Thursday morning brought news that Israel had lost Germany, a stalwart ally in the wake of the Holocaust, to the abstention column.  “If there is a poor turnout, a poor vote, the radicals gain,” India’s U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters.

For their part, Palestinians overwhelmingly back the measure, despite an assortment of disappointments with Abbas –  for wasting a year trying to get full UN membership in 2011, and for not visiting Gaza during the fighting, as foreign diplomats did.  “We are for the UN bid because we anticipate this will help us legally to pursue our struggles and gain our rights,” says Ladadwah, the bank employee who spoke admiringly of Hamas’ stand in Gaza. Hamas itself said it backs the diplomatic effort, as do other factions.

“This is called resistance, whether armed resistance or peaceful resistance,”   said Mahmoud Khames, 34, an unemployed West Bank resident, in advance of the vote. “It’s not a soccer match that someone has to win.  Resistance is a matter of freeing one’s self and his people from the Israeli occupation.”
Source: Time World

Nobel peace laureates call for Israel military boycott over Gaza assault

Letter with 52 signatories including artists and activists also denounces US and EU ‘complicity’ through weapons sales

A group of Nobel peace prize-winners, prominent artists and activists have issued a call for an international military boycott of Israel following its assault on the Gaza Strip this month.

The letter also denounces the US, EU and several developing countries for what it describes as their “complicity” through weapons sales and other military support in the attack that killed 160 Palestinians, many of them civilians, including about 35 children.

The 52 signatories include the Nobel peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel; the film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach; the author Alice Walker; the US academic Noam Chomsky; Roger Waters of Pink Floyd; and Stéphane Hessel, a former French diplomat and Holocaust survivor who was co-author of the universal declaration of human rights.

“Horrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip and conscious of the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israel’s decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights, we believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel,” the letter says.

“Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.”

The letter accuses several countries of providing important military support that facilitated the assault on Gaza. “While the United States has been the largest sponsor of Israel, supplying billions of dollars of advanced military hardware every year, the role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programmes.

“Similarly, the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea are unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom,” it says.

The letter opens with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The other signatories include John Dugard, a South African jurist and former UN special rapporteur in the occupied territories; Luisa Morgantini, former president of the European parliament; Cynthia McKinney, a former member of the US Congress; Ronnie Kasrils, a South African former cabinet minister; and the dramatist Caryl Churchill.

Source: Guardian News

US soldier ‘lucid’ after Afghan massacre

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.—File Photo

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD: A US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers was “lucid” and admitted to the crimes, witnesses and prosecutors said as he appeared in court for the first time Monday.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 39, had been drinking whisky and watching a violent action movie with comrades before heading out of his base twice to massacre victims including women and children in two nearby villages.

His wife and lawyer have claimed that Bales, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, could not remember what he did on the night of March 11 in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province.

But prosecutors refuted that claim Monday, at the start of a two-week so-called Article 32 hearing held to determine if he should face a full court martial over the killings, the worst US military crime in the decade-old war.

“He was lucid, he was coherent, he was responsive,” said prosecutor Joseph Morse at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, adding that Bales had admitted to the crimes, reportedly saying: “It’s bad, really bad.” Sporting a shaved head and wearing fatigues, Bales answered the judge’s questions in a clear voice, responding: “Sir, yes sir.” He alternated between sitting forward and slumping against the back of his chair.

Morse said the night began in the room of a fellow soldier, Sergeant Jason McLaughlin, where they drank Jack Daniel’s and Diet Pepsi while watching “Man on Fire” starring Denzel Washington as an ex-assassin on a revenge mission.

At some point after leaving McLaughlin’s room, Bale then allegedly entered the room of Sergeant Clayton Blackshear and had a rambling conversation in which he said he was unhappy with his home life.

“He talked about having bad kids, an ugly wife, he basically didn’t care if he made it back home to them,” Blackshear testified.

Bales also expressed frustration that those responsible for an IED attack the previous week had not been found and brought to justice.

Sometime around midnight, Bales allegedly left the base, heading south to a nearby village, and visited two houses. At the first, he shot one man while the others in the house fled across the street to a neighbour’s house.

Bales then entered the second house, killing three more while injuring six with gunshots to the face, neck, thigh and knees.

Bales is then alleged to have returned to base and conversed with at least one soldier before leaving once again, this time headed in the opposite direction.

McLaughlin testified that Bales came into his room at around 2:00 a.m. and admitted to shooting up the nearby village. McLaughlin, who did not believe Bales and was annoyed at being woken up, recalled the following exchange:

Bales: “I’ll be back at 5 [am]. You got me?”

“Whatever, Bob,” McLaughlin replied.

“Take care of my kids,” Bales said, grabbing McLaughlin’s hand.

“No Bob, take care of your own kids,” McLaughlin replied.

“No, take care of my kids,” Bales repeated.

“OK Bob,” McLaughlin said.

The second excursion was more deadly, Bales allegedly visited two Afghan dwellings, again killing one person in the first home.

In the second home, he murdered 11 people, including women and children. He then gathered the bodies in the center of the room, setting them alight, according to the prosecutor.

Bales faces 16 counts of murder, six of attempted murder, seven of assault, two of using drugs and one of drinking alcohol. Seventeen of the 22 victims were women or children and almost all were shot in the head.

Another witness, Corporal David Godwin, meanwhile testified that he tried unsuccessfully to help Bales dispose of evidence after his arrest, investigators found a vial of stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.

Godwin, who has been granted immunity from prosecution in return for testifying, also said that in the aftermath, Bales told him, “It’s bad. It’s bad. It’s real bad.” Witnesses and relatives of victims are expected to testify via video link from Afghanistan next week, when the US-based hearings will be held in the evening, to allow Afghan testimony during daylight hours.

Source: Dawn News

Mahmoud Abbas outrages Palestinian refugees by waiving his right to return

Images of Abbas burned by refugees who say he has conceded on one of the most visceral issues on Palestinian agenda

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is facing widespread condemnation and anger in the Palestinian territories and abroad after he publicly waived his right to return to live in the town from which his family was forced to flee in 1948, a repudiation of huge significance for Palestinian refugees.

After his image was burned in refugee camps in Gaza, Abbas rejected accusations that he had conceded one of the most emotional and visceral issues on the Palestinian agenda, the demand by millions of refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.

He insisted that comments made in an interview with an Israeli television channel were selectively quoted and the remarks were his personal stance, rather than a change of policy.

Abbas told Channel 2 he accepted he had no right to live in Safed, the town of his birth, from which his family was forced to flee in 1948 when Abbas was 13.

“I visited Safed before once, he said. “But I want to see Safed. It’s my right to see it, but not to live there.”

Referring to the internationally-recognised pre-1967 border, he went on: “Palestine now for me is ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever … This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts are Israel.”

The comments sparked protests in Gaza, where people in refugee camps burned images of the Palestinian president. Abbas was denounced on Twitter by pro-Palestinian activists.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas ruler in Gaza, said the issue was not about Abbas’s right to return to Safed but “the rights of 6 million Palestinians”.

He said in a statement: “No one has the right, whoever he is – a common man or president, organisation, a government or authority – to give up an inch of Palestinian land.”

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the president’s statement did “not represent in any way the views of the Palestinian people”.

The “right of return” is one of the most intractable issues in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians for a resolution to their decades-old conflict. The Palestinians have historically demanded that all those who fled or were expelled from their homes in the period around the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, and their descendants, must be allowed to return to their former homes.

About 5 million Palestinians are registered as refugees in the Palestinian territories and abroad.

Israel rejects their demand, saying that such a move would spell the end of the Jewish state.

Most international diplomats and observers believe that a settlement to the conflict is likely to involve a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees being given the right to return.

Following the broadcast of the interview, Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, said Abbas’s comments were a “brave and important public declaration”. In a statement, he said Abbas had shown he was “a real partner for peace” and that he understood “the solution to the Palestinian refugee issue cannot be in Israel’s territory and to the detriment of Israel’s character”.

Israel’s defence, minister Ehud Barak, described Abbas’s remarks as courageous and clear.

But Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. dismissed the comments, saying that the Palestinian president had different messages for different audiences. “There is no connection between [his] statements and his actual actions,” he said, calling for Abbas to return to negotiations.

Palestinian sources played down the row, saying Abbas’s comments had been misconstrued. One suggested the president had been ill-prepared for the interview and it had been a mistake to agree to conduct it in English, a language in which Abbas is not fluent.

Ghassan Khatib, an academic at Bir Zeit university in the West Bank and a former Palestinian Authority spokesman, said Abbas had not suggested a change in the official position. “This is an optional right. If an individual refugee does not wish to return, he will be free not to return. We all know that all Palestinians are not going to return. Some understand this, some do not.”

In the interview, Abbas also said that, while he was president, there would be “no third armed intifada [uprising against Israel]. Never.”

He said: “We don’t want to use terror. We don’t want to use force. We don’t want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That’s it.” He has said that Palestinian negotiators are willing to resume talks with Israel following the submission of a request, expected later this month, to the UN general assembly for recognition as a “non-member state”.

Israel and the US are vehemently opposed to the move, which is expected to be passed by a majority of the UN’s 193 member states.

Source: Guardian News

Sir Winston Churchill: Zionist hero

Jews hold strong views about the man honoured by a new statue in Jerusalem 

Jewish supporters of Winston Churchill are to unveil a bust of the British wartime leader in Jerusalem this weekend in what they say is a long-overdue recognition of his staunch and unwavering support of the Jewish cause and their desire for a homeland.

“As a passionate Zionist all his life and a philo-semite, Churchill has been under-recognised,” says Anthony Rosenfelder, a trustee of the Jerusalem Foundation, which is behind the project to commemorate the British leader. He “combined a historical understanding of the Jewish people and what the promised land meant for Jews … with realpolitik”.

It is perhaps ironic that a statue of Churchill should stand just yards away from the King David Hotel, scene of a deadly Jewish terror attack on British military headquarters in 1946 that was to hasten the demise of mandate rule in Palestine.

Sixty-four years after the British exit, Jewish antipathy towards its mandate-era rule of Palestine still remains strong.

Some regard Churchill as a controversial figure whose government turned back Jewish immigrants trying to reach Palestine during the Second World War. Others claim that Churchill was one of the greatest supporters of the Zionist movement. They say he should be acknowledged for his role in helping make real the 1917 Balfour Declaration of British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Nearly half a century after his death, though, Churchill still remains a complex historical figure among Jews. “It’s always important to give history a bit of time to bed down,” says Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of the British leader, a reference to the anger many Israelis still harbour towards the British. “People have had time to reflect and consider [on his role]. I don’t think it’s late after the event.”

Most Israelis will remember Churchill for his role in defeating Hitler, and as the man who set the world against the Nazis, he is much admired. Unlike other British officials who backed the movement, such as Henry Balfour, Sir Wyndham Deedes and David Lloyd George, there is, however, almost no official recognition of his contribution.

“Churchill is not really commemorated here, and for lots of reasons he should be,” says Isaac Herzog, an Israeli politician behind the bust initiative.

Many Israelis will admit scant knowledge of his long alliance with the Jews during the early part of the 20th century, one which spurred a friend to tell his official biographer, Martin Gilbert, that Churchill was not without fault, that he was “too fond of the Jews.”

Indeed, it is Mr Gilbert, himself a Jew, who has proven one of the single biggest champions of Churchill, and whose weighty tome on the subject fired imaginations, including that of Mr Rosenfelder who said the book “switched on a light for me”.

Tom Segev, author of One Palestine Complete, claims that Churchill once told his close friend and an elder of the Zionist movement, Chaim Weizmann, that he would support the Zionists “even if they did horribly stupid things”.

Not everybody is so convinced. Some see his support for Zionism as a matter of expediency. He spoke often of a Jewish conspiracy behind the Bolshevik Revolution, and there are those who believe that his support for a Jewish state arose from a desire to keep the Jews from meddling in the affairs of others.

“His attitude towards the Jews was very complicated,” says Eli Shaltiel, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. “The Jewish state was a way of solving the Jewish problem… Once they had a state of their own, it would serve their very uniqueness. They would be normal like any other nation.”

The question of Auschwitz concentration camp, where thousands were killed daily, also remains a bone of contention. Critics say he put Allied lives before Jewish ones by failing to bomb it in 1944. Although historians concede Churchill did give the order for an attack, he did not make it a priority.

Edward Luttwak, a Washington-based scholar writing a book about Churchill, is even more uncomplimentary. Even as the full horrors of the extermination camp became more widely known, , he claims, Churchill wilfully ignored the plight of Hungarian Jews.

He points to events in early 1944, when Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary all ceased to cooperate with Nazi Germany in deporting their Jewry, but Britain continued to enforce rigorously stiff immigration quotas to Palestine to appease the Arabs during a time of war. He claims they denied many European Jews safe passage by either declining or issuing out-of-date visa documents.

“The Romanians survived, the Bulgarians survived, the Hungarians did not. That’s on Churchill’s conscience,” says Mr Luttwak. “In 1944, Churchill, lifelong friend of the Jews, became Hitler’s remaining Holocaust ally.”

By then, Britain’s Palestine policy was increasingly under attack from the Jews. The Struma incident two years earlier – where a ship carrying Romanian refugees trying to reach Palestine via Turkey was turned away, only to be sunk by a Soviet submarine, killing 768 people on board – had rallied opposition to the British: Churchill himself was to become a target.

Newly declassified MI5 papers reveal that in 1944, the British feared that the Stern Gang, a Jewish terrorist group determined to oust the British from Palestine, was plotting to kill Churchill, as well as the unpopular politician Ernest Bevin.

In the end, it was not Churchill who died, but his close friend Lord Moyne, who was assassinated by the Stern Gang in Cairo in November 1944. Mr Segev writes that the bloody act “lost the Zionists one of their most important supporters, Winston Churchill”.

In an address to the House of Commons, Churchill made clear the depth of his dismay: “If our dreams for Zionism are to end in the smoke of assassins’ pistols and our labours for its future to produce only a new set of gangsters worthy of Nazi Germany, many like myself will have to reconsider the position we have maintained so consistently and so long in the past.”

But by then the wheels had already been set in motion, and the Jewish state was only a few years from becoming a reality.

Source: The Independent Newspaper

Auctioning off the internet to the UN

WASHINGTON: It is expected to be the mother of all cyber diplomatic battles.

When delegates gather in Dubai in December for an obscure UN agency meeting, fighting is expected to be intense over proposals to rewrite global telecom rules to effectively give the United Nations control over the Internet.

Russia, China and other countries back a move to place the Internet under the authority of the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency that sets technical standards for global phone calls.

US officials say placing the Internet under UN control would undermine the freewheeling nature of cyberspace, which promotes open commerce and free expression, and could give a green light for some countries to crack down on dissidents.

Observers say a number of authoritarian states will back the move, and that the major Western nations will oppose it, meaning the developing world could make a difference.

“The most likely outcome is a tie, and if that happens there won’t be any dramatic changes, although that could change if the developing countries make a big push,” said James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“But there is a lot of discontent with how the Internet is governed and the US will have to deal with that at some point.”Lewis said there was still an overwhelming perception that the US owns and manages the Internet.

Opponents have a “powerful argument” to create a global authority to manage the Internet, Lewis said, but “we need to find some way to accommodate national laws in a way that doesn’t sacrifice human rights.” Terry Kramer, the special US envoy for the talks, has expressed Washington’s position opposing proposals by Russia, China and others to expand the ITU’s authority to regulate the Internet.

“The Internet has grown precisely because it has not been micro-managed or owned by any government or multinational organization,” Kramer told a recent forum.

“There is no Internet central office. Its openness and decentralization are its strengths.”The head of the ITU, Hamadoun Toure, said his agency has “the depth of experience that comes from being the world’s longest established intergovernmental organization.” Toure wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian that any change in regulation should “express the common will of ITU’s major stakeholders” and “find win-win solutions that will act as a positive catalyst.” But Harold Feld of the US-based non-government group Public Knowledge said any new rules could have devastating consequences.

“These proposals, from the Russian Federation and several Arab states, would for the first time explicitly embrace the concept that governments have a right to control online communications and disrupt Internet access services,” Feld said on a blog post.

“This would reverse the trend of the last few years increasingly finding that such actions violate fundamental human rights.”Paul Rohmeyer, who follows cyber-security at the Stevens Institute of Technology, pointed to a “sense of anxiety” about the meeting in part because of a lack of transparency.

He said it was unclear why the ITU is being considered for a role in the Internet.

“The ITU historically has been a standards-setting body and its roots are in the telecom industry. I’m not familiar with anything they’ve done that’s had an impact on the Internet today,” Rohmeyer told AFP.

And the analyst noted that the significance of extending “governance” of the Internet to the ITU remains unclear.

Some observers point out that the ITU hired a Russian security firm to investigate the Flame virus, which sparked concerns about the dangers in cyberspace and the need for better cyber-security cooperation.

Rohmeyer said it was unclear whether a conspiracy was at hand, but that “the suggestion that the Internet is a dangerous place could be used to justify greater controls.” Observers are also troubled by a proposal by European telecom operators seeking to shift the cost of communication from the receiving party to the sender. This could mean huge costs for US Internet giants like Facebook and Google.

“This would create a new revenue stream for corrupt, autocratic regimes and raise the cost of accessing international websites and information on the Internet,” said Eli Dourado of George Mason University.

Milton Mueller, a professor of information studies at Syracuse University who specializes in Internet governance, said most of the concerns are being blown out of proportion.

Mueller said the ITU “already recognizes the sovereign right of nations to restrict communications into and out of the country.”

“What gets lost in the confusion over content regulation is that the real motive of most of the reactionary governments is to protect themselves from economic competition caused by telecom liberalization and deregulation, of which the Internet is only one part,” he said.

Source: Dawn News

Saudi king urges UN action against religious insults

“It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets.” Saudi King Abdullah said  on Saturda.y—Dawn File Photo

MINA: Saudi King Abdullah on Saturday demanded a UN resolution condemning insults on monotheistic religions after a low-budget film produced in the US sparked deadly protests last month.

“I demand a UN resolution that condemns any country or group that insults religions and prophets,” he said during a meeting at his palace with religious figures and heads of hajj delegations in the Mina valley where pilgrims were performing final rituals of hajj. “It is our duty and that of every Muslim to protect Islam and defend the prophets.”

A low-budget film produced in the US, Innocence of Muslims, triggered a wave of deadly anti-American violence last month across the Muslim world targeting US symbols ranging from embassies and schools to fast food chains.

Saudi Arabia had threatened to block YouTube in the kingdom if Google did not respond to a request to deny access to the video footage of the film.

YouTube then extended its restrictions on the video to Saudi Arabia.

The king also called on Saturday for the “unity of the Islamic nation (and) rejecting division to face the nation’s enemies” as he urged for dialogue among Muslims.

“Dialogue strengthens moderation and ends reasons of conflict and extremism,” he said.

“The interconfessional dialogue centre which we had announced in Mecca does not necessarily mean reaching agreements on the matters of belief, but it aims at reaching solutions to divisions and implementing co-existance among sects,”he added.

The Saudi monarch proposed in August setting up a centre for dialogue between Muslim confessions in Riyadh.

Source: Dawn News