In Taif today, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz chaired the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers during which it discussed the current situation in the Middle East in the wake of serious escalation by the Israeli authorities, notably the hideous crime of the bombing of a residential district in Gaza that resulted in the death of fifteen people, including nine children, and injuries to more than 170, mostly women and the elderly. The cabinet, taking note of the fact that the Israeli forces are continuing to demolish homes, put Palestinian people under siege, and assassinate their leaders, declared that this crime must be considered an act of terrorism that cannot be justified under any pretext, and described it as a shameful blot in modern history, an action to be denounced, and a severe blow to current efforts being exerted to put an end to violence and push the concerned parties toward resumption of peace talks and restoration of security and stability in the Middle East. The Kingdom strongly condemns this ugly crime, and condemns Israel's daily abuse of the rights of the Palestinian people, an abuse that unequivocally demonstrates Israel's lack of interest in promoting successful efforts to bring about security and stability and that underlines its indifference towards the simplest of human rights.
The cabinet then reviewed reports on the progress of a number of educational, health, tourism and developmental projects implemented or underway in the area of Taif. On domestic issues, a number of resolutions were passed, including exemption from customs duties for imported wood and coal; authorization for the Minister of Higher Education or his deputy to discuss and sign a draft agreement on educational and cultural cooperation with the People's Republic of China; and approval of the text of, and authorization for the Minister of Education to sign, a memorandum of understanding in the field of education with the State of Victoria in Australia.