Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal sought to explain why he was in contact with Israelis at the Munich Security Conference last month in an article published on Thursday in the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh.
Prince Turki said that when he is at international conferences, which are open to all, he sometimes is posed questions from Israelis in the audience – both government officials and ordinary citizens.
These contacts have raised questions, so “in this article I want to clarify my perspective… even if it was a mistake by me and of the devil,” he wrote.
He then went on to explain how “our Palestinian brothers” have been suffering from injustice, brutal wars, occupation and so on, and that Saudi Arabia is making persistent efforts to support the Palestinian cause.
Prince Turki also said that the only way to solve the “tragedy” is the adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed in 2002, which includes a Palestinian state on pre-1967 boundaries with its capital in Jerusalem and a return of refugees, in return for normalization of Israel’s relations with the Arab world.
Unfortunately, he said, Israel refused the solution.
At the conference last month, Turki said that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is the right person to lead Israel’s negotiating team.
Livni’s office confirmed that during a question and answer session at the end of a panel on the peace process, featuring Livni, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and American envoy Martin Indyk, the Saudi prince asked Livni about the Arab Peace Initiative.
At the end of the panel discussion, Turki praised Livni, saying he “understands why [she was] chosen to be Israel’s negotiator.”
“If only you could sit on the same stage with me and talk about it,” Livni responded.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.