Prince Saud Al-Faisal addresses Palestine, Syria at press conference

December 4, 2012

During a press briefing in Riyadh today, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal welcomed the passage of a United Nations General Assembly resolution granting Palestine the status of observer state. He declared, “We hope that the United Nations Security Council deals positively with the General Assembly resolution, . . . responds to the opinions of the international majority in dealing with the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and puts an end to the Israeli policy of procrastination within the framework of its responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security.”

Prince Saud blamed the lack of movement in the peace process on Israel, specifically denouncing its continuous settlement building. “If withdrawal from the settlements does not happen, the two-state solution will not be achieved,” he stated. “Where can a Palestinian state be created and what are the lands belonging to it as the West Bank is controlled by Israel almost entirely? . . . Without withdrawing from these lands, I think that there is no chance or possibility of a two-state solution.”

Turning to the crisis in Syria, the Foreign Minister expressed his deep regret over the increasing number of innocent people being killed, injured and displaced. He condemned the “severe destruction witnessed by Syrian cities under the bombardment of the blind, devastating military machine of the regime.” Prince Saud stressed the importance of achieving a political transition of power. “We see that the formation of the new Syrian coalition constitutes a positive, important task to unite the opposition under one banner,” he said. “We hope to see a similar step toward unifying the positions and visions of the international community.”

Asked about fears of chaos in the aftermath of the fall of the Assad regime, Prince Saud expressed optimism that the Syrian opposition is becoming more united, but reiterated his disappointment at some in the international community. “If the international position in the Security Council is as united as the opposition was united, I think that this will be a beginning for the resolution of the crisis in Syria,” the Foreign Minister said. “Fear has no place because all who were united under the umbrella of the opposition insist that there is no fear for the others and that there is no desire for revenge or following those who fought in this war. . . Hence, fear or intimidation, in this case, I think, is to obstruct the solution.”

Prince Saud predicted that the opposition coalition, which has been recognized by the Kingdom as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, will be able to deal with the aftermath of the war. “Syria has been there even before Al-Assad,” he stated. “And after Al-Assad, it will be a state that maintains its unity and deals with its people equally. This is within the framework of the program of action they have introduced. They have a huge task to rebuild Syria because the destruction in Syria has become a phenomenon that exceeds what we’ve seen. The number of victims and the destruction of infrastructure have become unbearable. The heavy bombing of a city such as Damascus, the oldest city in the world, by the Assad regime makes them face a huge task in re-building their own country.”