Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz today chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, and briefed the cabinet on talks and contacts he and Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz had had with envoys from the United Nations, and with leaders of a number of brotherly and friendly countries, including the visiting King of Jordan Abdullah II Al-Hussein, which dealt with the latest international developments, notably the stalemate in the Middle East peace process caused by Israel's stubborn policies.
King Fahd and King Abdullah urged the international community to be wary of any unilateral measures by Israel to create a new status quo by persisting in the construction of the ill-advised ‘fence’, an action which threatens not only the Palestinian territories that are being swallowed up, but also neighboring countries, through the displacement of Palestinians into these countries. The cabinet reiterated that the international community should exert greater efforts to end the suffering of the Palestinian people; stand firmly against Israel’s violent policies, which are in contravention of the United Nations; and refuse to allow Israel to persist in a policy that seeks to abort efforts for peace.
On the situation in Iraq, the cabinet expressed great concern over the continued acts of violence that have led to the killing of innocent people, Iraqi as well as non-Iraqi, through the targeting of international and humanitarian organizations; and stressed the importance of achieving security in Iraq so that the Iraqi people can realize their aspirations of sovereignty and stability.
Turning to domestic issues, the cabinet passed a number of resolutions, including approval of a draft agreement with the United States administration signed in Washington DC on July 21, 2003 for the promotion of commercial and investment relations; authorization for the Minister of Higher Education or his deputy to negotiate a draft memorandum on cooperation in science and education with the corresponding ministry in the Republic of Syria; and approval of the National Plan submitted by the Minister of Health for the destruction of medical waste, which will remain in effect until ratification of the GCC unified system for medical waste management.
In particular, and based on recommendations submitted by the Supreme Economic Council and the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura), the cabinet approved the new income tax system, to be imposed on non-Saudi, non-Gulf Cooperation Council companies and individuals who operate businesses in the Kingdom.