2002 Press Release

Statement by Saudi Arabian Government in response to President Bush’s speech on the Middle East

The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has closely followed the initiative announced by U.S. President George W. Bush in his latest speech.  It has also followed with great care the reactions that followed, particularly that of the Palestinian leadership.

The President’s initiative contained several positive elements, including a clear American commitment to finding a solution to the crisis in the Middle East It is imperative that the United States assume a vital role in this respect.

The initiative also recognized the right of the Palestinian people to live in freedom and dignity, in their own independent state, within three years; the need for Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338; an end to Israeli settlements and the daily indignities suffered by Palestinian citizens; and a return to normal living, with economic activities, freedom of movement, and the release of Palestinian funds. The initiative also recognized that East Jerusalem and the refugee situation should be part of the final settlement.

The Government of Saudi Arabia seeks clarification concerning certain elements, such as the modalities of implementing the positive points mentioned in the speech, and we look forward to the consultations and communications that are to be carried out by the U.S. Government with all concerned parties.

The Government of Saudi Arabia would also like to point out the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative that was unanimously adopted by the Arab leaders at the Beirut Summit, and which clearly defined a comprehensive solution that will allow the peoples of the region to live in peace and security, and give all concerned parties confidence in the peace process.  Therefore, the Government of Saudi Arabia hopes that President Bush, through his Secretary of State Colin Powell, will initiate the necessary contacts that would lead to a viable plan of action for the implementation of the principles enunciated above.

As for the reforms requested by President Bush, the Palestinians themselves have called for such reforms and are currently working towards that end.  It is the Palestinian people who should be the sole judges and arbiters of this issue.

The Government of Saudi Arabia had hoped that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would have been held accountable for the violence he has caused, the spilling of blood, and the daily indignities inflicted on the Palestinians. With the Arab world committed to peace, and the U.S. President supporting a peace process that also has world-wide support, it is time for the Government and people of Israel to choose between the continuation and consequences of their occupation of Palestinian land and usurpation of the sovereignty of the Palestinian people; and acceptance of a just peace that will offer them security while achieving the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.