Kingdom Urges New Approach to Middle East
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, 30 September 2007 â€” Saudi Arabia yesterday called upon major international powers to change the current approach toward the Arab-Israeli conflict and find a just and lasting solution to the 60-year-old dispute in order to promote world peace and save the region from an impending catastrophe.
[For Arabs a “just solution” means undoing ’67 and ’48.]
Addressing the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said the Israeli occupation of Arab territories was the main reason for the spread of extremism and terrorism in the region.
â€œCurrent circumstances in the Middle East are extremely dangerous. The Israeli occupation of Arab land continues to transform the whole region into multiple crisis zones accompanied by the dramatic suffering of Palestinians which is linked to the spread of despair and extremism,â€ the Saudi Press Agency quoted the prince as saying.
Prince Saud reiterated the Arabsâ€™ total commitment to peace. â€œThe Arab world has made its commitment to peace loud and clear,â€ he said. â€œThe Arab-Israeli conflict has dominated all other issues for the past six decades. No regional crisis has greater potential to affect other regional conflicts or world peace than this conflict,â€ he added.
Saud said any negligence on the part of the international community to find a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict would create a suitable environment for the spread of extremism and terrorism. â€œAs conflicts consume and squander the rich resources and capabilities of our region, they obstruct modernization, development and reforms needed in this region,â€ he explained.
In his address Prince Saud also spoke about the proposed Middle East peace conference. â€œSaudi Arabia, along with its Arab brothers, has welcomed publicly the important positive points that were included in US President George W. Bushâ€™s invitation to convene an international peace conference, especially the call for an end to occupation and for negotiated solutions to the issues of Jerusalem, borders and refugees.â€
[No mention if it will attend.]
The Saudi foreign minister emphasized that the peace conference should tackle core issues of the conflict. â€œThe success of the conference depends on tackling these issues with clarity… and within a reasonable timeframe.â€ He called upon the world community to take quick steps to end the daily suffering and humiliation of the Palestinians. [Like he cares.]
The Kingdom criticized the Quartet â€” the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations â€” for sidestepping the underlying substantive issues of the Middle East conflict. â€œClearly there is a need for a fresh start to overcome previous hurdles and obstacles. In this regard, the Arab peace initiative represents a unique and historical opportunity to reinvigorate the peace process,â€ he said, referring to the peace plan which was proposed by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and relaunched at the last Arab summit in Riyadh.
Prince Saud reaffirmed Saudi Arabiaâ€™s continuous support to the United Nations in the promotion of world peace and stability. â€œOur world is experiencing speedy political, economic and social changes, characterized by increased complexity. It is vital that we cooperate with one another now more than ever, under the banner of the UN, to manage these complex issues and developments.â€ The Kingdom called for balanced and healthy relations among member countries, based on mutual respect.
While lamenting the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, Saud stressed the importance of consolidating Iraqâ€™s unity, preserving its independence and sovereignty, and refraining from interfering in its internal affairs. â€œAll Iraqis must be given equal rights,â€ he said. He also reiterated the Kingdomâ€™s support for the Lebanese government.
[He obviously doesn’t like Biden’s federation, now endorsed by Senate and Congress.]
Prince Saud emphasized the importance of making the whole Middle East, including the Gulf region, free of nuclear weapons. â€œIsrael is the only country in the region which is known to have weapons of mass destruction but is not subject to any form of monitoring,â€ he pointed out.
[He is trying to leverage the attempt to block Iran getting the bomb to get Israel to get rid of the bomb.]
While supporting the rights of all countries to use nuclear energy peacefully, Saud called on Iran and other Middle Eastern countries to strictly respect their obligations under international conventions and treaties that include specific safeguards for nuclear programs.
[Here he is supporting Iran’s right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. That’s what Iran says it wants. Either he is affraid of the an Iranian bomb or he is not.]
â€œWe hope that Iran cooperates positively with international efforts which aim to ensure a peaceful and swift end to the Iranian nuclear issue, and to spare the region from futile arms races and serious environmental dangers.â€
Global terrorism was another major issue that figured high in the Kingdomâ€™s address. Prince Saud urged the General Assembly to adopt King Abdullahâ€™s proposal to establish an international counterterrorism center, under the auspices of the United Nations. â€œThe only way to pre-empt terrorist plans is to exchange intelligence and first-hand information between countries and agencies,â€ the prince said.
[That’s all we need, another UN agency. The UN can’t even define terrorism. Such an agency will name Israel the leading terrorist state.]
He commended Somali factions for signing a reconciliation agreement in Jeddah earlier this month in the presence of King Abdullah. He hoped that all Somali parties would join the national reconciliation process as quickly as possible in order to open a new era of peace and stability in their country.
He said Saudi Arabia had given four percent of its GDP in foreign aid over the last three decades. â€œWe have also offered debt relief amounting to more than $6 billion to a number of less developed counties,â€ he added.