Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal called on Thursday for the revival of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative in which Israel would withdraw to the pre- 1967 lines and there would be an “agreed upon” solution for Palestinian refugees.
He was speaking in an unusual 10-minute pre-recorded interview with journalist Chemi Shalev that aired in Tel Aviv at the Israel Conference for Peace sponsored by the newspaper, Haaretz.
The “relative peace that Israel is now enjoying” cannot last unless the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved through a two-state solution, the prince said.
The 2002 initiative, put forward by Faisal’s uncle, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, involves full acceptance of Israel by all the Arab states in the region.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently rejected all attempts to negotiate with Palestinian leadership on the basis of the pre-1967 armistice lines.
“If Mr. Netanyahu were more of a far-sighted leader than he seems to be, he would say I am willing to negotiate on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative,” Faisal said, adding that he believes it is the plan that could jump-start a new peace process.
Faisal spoke just one week after the White House announced it does not believe a two-state solution can be achieved in the 14 months remaining of US President Barack Obama’s time in office.
The officials added that they did not even imagine talks could be resumed.
In the absence of a US initiative, the ball is now in Israel’s court to find a way to move the process forward, Faisal said. “The US government is not going to push Israel to do that [accept the Arab Peace Initiative].There is no one who can, other than the US, so it has to come from Israel and Netanyahu,” Faisal said.
A push by Netanyahu for this plan would remove doubts and suspicions that the Arab world has about the Israeli leader, Faisal said.
“What better time than [now] for Israel to say, ‘Let us have peace with our neighbors’ and come from a position of strength to the table,” Faisal said.
Regarding dangers to the region as a whole, the former Saudi ambassador to the US and the former head of intelligence for his country, had harsh words to say about ISIS, whose members he referred to as apostates.
“To consider that chopping someone’s head off, in the way that ISIS does, is in any way Islamic is to go against the whole grain of Islamic tradition and thought and theology and practice,” he said.
When ISIS does this in the name of Islam, “it is robbing me and 1.5 billion Muslims of their faith,” he said.