2006 News Story

Foreign minister: Palestinian-Israeli conflict key to resolving regional crises

In his statement to the 61st UN General Assembly today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal warned that the situation in the Middle East is urgent, with multiple crises threatening regional stability and creating an environment in which terrorism and extremism thrive.

The statement was delivered by Saudi Ambassador to the UN Fawzi Shobokshi on behalf of Prince Saud.

The key to resolving the multiple crises facing the region is to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is at the heart of the Middle East problem, he said.

“The international community should no longer tolerate any procrastination or repeated failures in resolving this situation,” Prince Saud remarked. “The international community, and especially its major powers, must set aside their divisions and face up to the vital task of rapidly reaching a peaceful, just and lasting solution, in accordance with the principles of international legitimacy.”

The basis for a solution are clear, as expressed in President Bush’s two-state vision and the Arab Peace Initiative. What is needed is to link this vision with a clear agenda and time frame, the foreign minister said.

There also needs to be a change in the way peace negotiations are approached. Unlike in previous negotiations, all of the final status issues – including Jerusalem, borders, refugees and mutual security – must be addressed. Only then can a breakthrough occur, he said.

Prince Saud also said that the Kingdom is “profoundly concerned and extremely saddened” by the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, and called on the international community to support Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s efforts to achieve national reconciliation.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, Prince Saud urged continued negotiations and peaceful solutions. He also reiterated the Kingdom’s longstanding call for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

Turning to terrorism, Prince Saud stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to fighting terrorism and extremism, and strongly rejected linking Islam to terrorism.

“The great religions of the world all promote noble and peaceful values, and we should not hold the vast majority of true believers responsible for the deviant behavior of a very small minority in any religion,” he said. “The success of the global campaign against terrorism is contingent upon our strict adherence to the rules of international law and respect of human and religious rights.”

In addition, he reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for Lebanon, and its efforts to rebuild following the recent Israeli attacks. He also called for an end to the conflict in Darfur and drew attention to the Kingdom’s ongoing foreign aid to countries in need.