Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday called Jerusalem "the key for peace" and said justice and peace would not come to the Middle East without "an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."
Addressing an audience at the opening of an event celebrating Jerusalem's role in Arab culture, Abbas reiterated calls for Israel to accept a two-state solution, vowing not to resume negotiations with Israel without an explicit Israeli recognition of previously signed agreements.
Abbas said that "any new Israeli government should reaffirm anew its commitment for peace by clearly accepting the two-state solution, the road map peace plan and all commitments reached in previously signed agreements."
He also stressed that "without (Israel) halting all settlement activities, in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories, there will not be serious and productive negotiations."
Abbas stressed that the Palestinians want to reach "an effective truce" with Israel that would end bloodshed and hardships.
He called on Israel to stop the destruction of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories, describing this policy as one of "ethnic cleansing."
Jerusalem Police on Saturday dispersed a number of small events staged as part of the Palestinian Culture Festival, meant to declare the city "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009."
As of Saturday afternoon, police had shut down eight events and arrested 20 people, believed to be the events' organizers.
Nonetheless, Palestinian officials say they plan to hold several events throughout the year to commemorate Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture.
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