Former Saudi general Dr. Anwar Eshki and a group of Saudi businessmen and academics in Jerusalem, July 22, 2016.
Abd al-Mujid al-Hakim, a member of the Saudi Arabian delegation that recently visited Israel and the Palestinian territories, told BBC Arabic on Friday that he believes Israeli society wants peace.
“In Arab societies, the picture of Israeli society is that it embraces a culture of death, wants to spill blood, and does not believe in peace. That [picture] is not correct.” He continued, “The Israeli society that I encountered embraces a culture of peace, has accomplishments it wants to (protect), wants coexistence, and wants peace.”
Hakim, who also serves as director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Policy in Jedda, added that he thinks that the current stalemate in the peace process does not relate to differences in policy between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“The problem between the Israeli and Palestinian sides is not that they have different positions. When we dialogued with Mr. Dore Gold, members of Knesset, and members of organizations fighting for peace, the disagreements did not relate to the Arab Peace Initiative. They accept the Arab Peace Initiative.” Instead he suggested, “The problem is the lack of mutual trust between the two sides.”
Hakim added that he and his colleagues do not just want to achieve a political peace between states, but also a general peace between peoples. “We do not want peace like Camp David. It is true that it is a peace that has succeeded in terms of politics, but it failed on the popular level. We want peace and an end to suffering through a political and popular peace.”
Hakim also called on parties that condemned his delegation’s visit to not use the Palestinian issue for political gain. “Lets stop exploiting the Palestinian suffering and issue to achieve political gains in the region…Enough of this exploitation.”
He then defended his delegation’s visit, saying it seeks to achieve peace. “We are spreading peace. We want to achieve a new reality for the Palestinian citizen, different from the miserable reality under which he currently lives.”
Hakim and his colleague, Former Saudi General Anwar Eshki, and other Saudis, who arrived as a part of a delegation to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials and members of civil society, have confronted multiple criticisms for their visit in the past week.
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