(photo credit: AP)
Saudi Arabian Prince Turki al-Faisal spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iran's influence in Lebanon, the sources of terrorism, and prospects of his own country forming normalized relations with Israel, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on Thursday.
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Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence minister and ambassador to the US, is considered to be a candidate to succeed his brother, Saud al-Faisal, as Saudi foreign minister, according to a Washington Post report.
Describing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as "the cause of numerous threats to peace and prosperity" around the globe, Faisal offered his own prescriptions for peace in the region, based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. He said that the key to peace is an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, which he interpreted UN Security Council Resolution 242 as demanding. Faisal said that, numerous UN resolutions have been passed since 1967, "yet peace peace has remained elusive and the conflict has been enlarged and spread like a cancer across borders."
Discussing Hizbullah and Lebanon, the prince said that the issue of
Shaba Farms is allowing Hizbullah to "supplant the role of the
legitimate government" and seek its own agenda, all the while,
"purporting to stand for Lebanon's beleaguered people and even Islam
Iran's influence with Hizbullah did not escape the prince, pointing out
that "foreign hands can clearly be seen manipulating the strings" in
Lebanon. He continued to say that "the people of Lebanon paid the price
with their lives for foreign-led ambitions in the region."
Faisal compared Hamas to Hizbullah, saying that the organization
"learned from the Lebanese model and followed in its footsteps."
Describing how both organizations have risen to power by taking
advantage of the tragedies inherent in conflict, he asserted that
achieving a "lasting peace" would have a "dampening effect on
extremism." Making a linkage between the wider war on terror and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the prince claimed that "much of what we
call 'terror' is able to find its recruits due to the conflict between
Israel and the Palestinians."
The Saudi prince went on to blast continued Israeli settlement building,
deferring to the Palestinian position that the issue is central to
reaching peace. Promoting the Saudi sponsored Arab Peace Initiative, he
renewed the 2002 offer that Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and the
Organization of the Islamic Conference would "end all forms of
hostilities and commence normal and peaceful relations with the State of
However, he said that Saudi Arabia will continue refusing "to directly
or indirectly engage Israel" until it withdraws from the West Bank, the
Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Shaba Farms, removing any hope of
relations between the two countries any time soon.
Prince Faisal concluded by calling for greater involvement by the West,
saying it "has the ability to put out the flames of numerous regional
fires by extinguish the source of the blaze in the Middle East."