In an interview on the 'Charlie Rose' program on the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Crown Prince Abdullah's foreign policy advisor Adel Al-Jubeir discussed the outlook for peace in the Middle East. Mr. Al-Jubeir declared that intense American involvement is absolutely necessary to advance the peace process in the Middle East and he praised the Bush administration for its effort thus far, saying: “We hope they keep up their involvement.”
Mr. Al-Jubeir cautioned, however, that the roadmap in and of itself is not a panacea for the challenges confronting peace efforts; what is needed to push the process ahead is a clear delineation of the end product.
Asked what Arab states are doing, he replied: “The Arab world put forth a peace initiative which was initiated by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia at the Arab Summit last year in Beirut, and in that initiative were incorporated items that the Palestinians could not deal with in their negotiations with the Israelis.” Included among those issues, he continued, were the end of the conflict, peace treaties with Arab states, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state within pre-1967 boundaries, and a formula to deal with the question of refugees. This has set a framework of Arab demands that Israel would have to accept to end the conflict. In addition, Arab states have gone to the Palestinians to urge them to tone down the violence in order to encourage the Israeli public to move towards peace.
Furthermore, the Kingdom has taken a look at the whole issue of funding to make sure that no Saudi funding goes to groups that are engaged in terrorism. Pressed to expand on this last point, Mr. Al-Jubeir said that while the Kingdom can guarantee that no government funding is going to extremist groups, some contributions from private individuals might still be making their way to the coffers of these organizations. “We have prohibited our charities from distributing any money outside of Saudi Arabia”, he explained. “We have asked a number of our charities to close offices outside of Saudi Arabia. We have put in place financial control mechanisms in our banking system to ensure that we know where every dollar goes that is transferred out of Saudi Arabia. You cannot make cash transfers, you cannot take cash out of the country. So we have tried to make it as airtight as possible. And even when I say this, is it possible that somebody could be sending money from an account elsewhere in the world? Yes, it is possible.”
Mr. Al-Jubeir added that the Kingdom has underscored its support for Prime Minister Abbas by making sure that all Saudi funding goes directly to the Palestinian Authority. But he stressed that ultimately peace will be contingent upon the willingness of the Israeli people to accept it. The policy of retaliation and counter retaliation will produce nothing. It is necessary, he said, for Israel to demonstrate a commitment to the end objectives of the peace process. In addition, there is a need for Israel to undertake actions that show Palestinians that their lives will improve if they proceed down the road of peace. Focus needs to be put on the humanitarian crisis faced by Palestinians in order to ease Palestinian frustration and dry up support for extremists. He also suggested that the presence of international peacekeepers to monitor the security situation on the ground would be useful.
On a separate issue, Mr. Al-Jubeir said that he believes Iran will extradite Al-Qaeda suspects it holds to their countries of national origin, including several Saudi nationals that are being held.