Saturday, March 21, 2009

Abbas: 'Jerusalem is the key to peace'

Settling the issue of Jerusalem is the key to peace, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, even as police were breaking up several east Jerusalem gatherings in an effort to stifle the PA's intention of declaring the city a cultural capital of the Arabs.

Speaking at an event marking 'Jerusalem, Capital of Arab Culture for 2009' Day in Bethlehem, Abbas asserted that Israel's policies of "racism, oppression, land-grabbing and demolitions" must stop before peace negotiations could continue.

He also called on Palestinians to "stand up for Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine." The PA president vowed "we will continue to strive for peace… peace based on the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, on the 1967 borders, whose capital is Jerusalem."

On Saturday afternoon, police prevented more than a dozen events from taking place, making at least 20 arrests in the process.

On the Temple Mount in the Old City, police officers prevented groups of students from entering the Aksa Mosque waving PLO flags.

Officers also detained for questioning three university employees in Al Kuds University, who were intending to distribute shirts commemorating the event.

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