Saudis continue playing games

The Guardian

Saudi Arabia has signalled that it will not attend the Middle East peace conference scheduled by the US for this month unless there is significant agreement in advance on the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.

But Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister, also held out a vision of normalisation between the Arab world and Israel – “not just the absence of war” – if the conflict could be resolved.

In a measure of changing attitudes in the conservative heartland of the Arab world, he characterised the conflict merely as “a border dispute [with] two sides fighting over the same territory”.

“We need a successful meeting. To be successful it must deal with the main issues of peace in the Middle East: Jerusalem, borders, the return of the Palestinians,” he told reporters at the end of the Saudi state visit to London yesterday.

[..] But Israel, said the prince, had not produced “an honest proposal” on how to resolve it.

    “The Arabs have come with one: total peace for a total withdrawal, with all the security necessary for both sides, with full recognition: a peace that is not just an absence of war but a peace of normalisation, of open borders, of exchanges between Israelis and their neighbours.”

[Are the Saudis asking for a counter proposal? One wonders what he means by “honest proposal”]

Israel, he insisted, had to stop building settlements on occupied land. “It would be foolhardy for the Palestinians to negotiate a return of their territories while the Israelis are building more settlements. How can they negotiate when there is a wall being built that takes away much of the West Bank?”

An effort was needed too to reunite the Palestinians – bitterly divided since the Islamist movement Hamas took over the Gaza Strip last summer. “Peace cannot be made by one man,” – an apparent reference to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and Fatah leader. “It cannot be made by even half a people. There must be some form of consensus among the Palestinians in this regard, as there must be among the Israelis who want peace.” [..]

[He ignores that Hamas is on record of rejecting any permanent deal. That tells me that no permanant deal is in the offing.So where’s the deal?]

November 2, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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