Netanyahu Welcomes 'Arab Participation'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he would encourage Arab countries to get involved in the Middle East peace process.

In a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyahu said he agreed with U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to expand the "circle of peace."

"We first want to strengthen the existing peace circle, but we think it's possible to widen it," the prime minister said.

"We welcome the efforts of President Obama to bring about normalization steps [by Arab countries] with Israel," he said.

"I think this is something new, refreshing and that completely corresponds with our views," Netanyahu said.

"The partnership of the Arab countries will bolster peace and give both us and the Palestinians stability," he said, adding that "in the Middle East, there are threats that threaten us all," a reference to the Iran's nuclear arms pursuit.

"We have the opportunity to broaden the circle of peace, and I'm glad that President Obama sees eye to eye with us on this opportunity," he said.

The prime minister also spoke of concrete projects to develop the Palestinian Authority (PA) economy.

"We are working to promote economic projects in the Palestinian Authority. There are opportunities to get investments by third-party countries in Europe, Asia and from other places - even the Arab world, even the Persian Gulf," he said.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu convened a meeting of a ministerial committee, aimed at "improving the situation of the Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told committee members that some 100 projects were already in the works, including a new industrial park near Jenin in northern Samaria and another industrial zone in Jericho to process and market the area's agricultural products and produce.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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