A prominent American Jewish leader urged Israel yesterday to halt the building of settlements on occupied Arab lands, which threatens the Middle East peace process.

"If Israel is to achieve peace with its neighbors, then it should declare a freeze on settlements in order to give the peace process a chance," said Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress.

Mr. Siegman and his eight-member delegation met with King Hussein and other Jordanian leaders in Amman after a visit to Saudi Arabia. It was the group's second trip to Jordan since 1989 but their first to the Saudi kingdom, which they entered despite having Israeli stamps in their passports.

Siegman said Arab states should show Israel they accept its presence in the region to encourage it in the peace process. Egypt is the only Arab country officially at peace with Israel.

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