Saudi Foreign Minister’s Address to Peace Conference
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The following statement was delivered today by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal at the International Conference on Peace in the Middle East in Annapolis, MD:
Mr President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are all here at the kind invitation of President Bush to reaffirm our total commitment to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
A great deal is riding on the success or failure of this undertaking. The Arab-Israeli conflict has caused too much pain and suffering and too many lives have been lost.
Stagnation in the peace process has increased the appeal for extremist ideologies. Feelings of despair and frustration have reached a dangerously high level.
It is time to bring this conflict to an end, and to enable the people of the region to divert their energies from war and destruction to peace and development.
This is the fundamental reason behind this important gathering, and the ultimate benchmark for its success.
We have come to support the launching of serious and continuing talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis that will address all the core and final status issues. These talks must be followed by the launching of the Syrian and Lebanese tracks at the earliest.
The United States and the Quartet have expressed their commitment to working towards achieving a final settlement of the Arab Israeli conflict within a specific time frame, and we shall hold them to that. The terms of reference for negotiations on all tracks are UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.
It is absolutely necessary to establish an international follow-up mechanism that monitors progress in the negotiations among the parties, as well as the implementation of commitments made.
It is also essential that Israel implement such steps as the freezing of all settlement activities, the dismantling of settlement outposts, the releasing of prisoners, the halting of the construction of the wall, the removal of Israeli checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the lifting of the siege imposed on the Palestinian people. These steps must be seriously implemented on the ground if the final status negotiations are to succeed.
Saudi Arabia is committed to promoting peace in the Middle East. It was never on the sidelines, where peace was concerned. Over the years our leaders have proposed serious initiatives to end the conflict. Lives must be spared, and hope must replace despair. Our region must be kept from sliding into turmoil and chaos. The Middle East has the capacity of becoming a haven in which all the children of Abraham can live normal and prosperous lives, free of fear and insecurity.
The Arab Peace Initiative is based on international legitimacy and the principles of the Madrid Peace Conference, especially the principle of land for peace. It provides a realistic approach to implementing the vision of the two-state solution.
In the Arab Peace Initiative, all Arab countries committed themselves to achieve peace, security, recognition and normalization among all the countries of the region, including Israel.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, addressed the Israeli public directly when he first proposed the Arab Peace Initiative at the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut by saying:
“Peace emanates from the heart and mind, and not from the barrel of a cannon, or the exploding warhead of a missile. The time has come for Israel to put its trust in peace after it has gambled on war for decades without success. Israel, and the world, must understand that peace and the retention of the occupied Arab territories are incompatible and impossible to reconcile or achieve.”
In Arabic we usually end by saying “May peace be upon you,” and this time let me say in addition, “May peace be achieved by you.”