DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A prominent Saudi prince harshly criticized Israel on Sunday at the Bahrain Security Summit that the Israeli foreign minister attended remotely, illustrating the challenges facing any further deals between Arab states and Israel in the absence of an independent Palestinian state.
It seems that the fiery statements of Prince Turki Al-Faisal in the Manama Dialogue surprised the Israeli Foreign Minister, especially since the Israelis receive a warm welcome from officials in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates after agreements to normalize relations.
However, these deals have not been resolved due to the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians view these agreements as a stab in the back against their Arab brothers and a betrayal of their cause.
Prince Turki opened his remarks by comparing what he described as Israel’s “peace-loving advocates of high moral principles” versus what he described as a Palestinian reality much darker than living under the power of “Western colonialism.”
Prince Turki said that Israel “imprisoned (the Palestinians) in concentration camps under the worst security charges – young and old, women and men rotten there without resorting to justice.” They demolish homes as they like and kill whoever they want.
The prince also criticized Israel’s undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons and “Israeli governments unleashed their political followers and affiliated media from other countries to discredit and demonize Saudi Arabia.”
The prince reiterated the kingdom’s official position that the solution lies in implementing the Arab Peace Initiative, a deal sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that offers Israel full relations with all Arab countries in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the lands Israel occupied in 1967.
He added, “You cannot treat an open wound with analgesics.”
“I would like to express my regret for the statements of the Saudi representative,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who spoke directly after Prince Turki.
He said, “I don’t think it reflects the spirit and the changes that are taking place in the Middle East.”
The confrontation and what happened subsequently between Prince Turki and a confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the summit highlighted the continuing widespread opposition to Israel by many within Saudi Arabia, despite some state-supported efforts to enhance communication with Jewish groups and supporters of Israel. .
Meanwhile, Ashkenazi reiterated Israel’s position that the Palestinians are responsible for their failure to reach a peace agreement.
“We have a choice here with the Palestinians, whether to solve it or not, or to go into this blame game,” said Ashkenazi, an ally of Netanyahu’s main rival, Benny Gantz.
Dore Gold, a close confidant of Netanyahu and a former UN ambassador in the audience, noted that Prince Faisal’s statements were “accusations from the past – many of them wrong.” The Prince later sparked a former Gould TV appearance “who slanders the kingdom and uses the ugliest descriptions”.
The Prince said, “I think Mr. Dorey Gold should be the last one to talk about past beliefs and attitudes here.”
Prince Turki led Saudi intelligence for more than 20 years and served as ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom. Although he does not currently hold any official position, his position is seen as closely reflecting that of King Salman.. However, the king’s firm son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 35, is seen more willing to quietly reach out to Israel to counter their common rival, Iran, and boost foreign investment in the kingdom..
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdul Latif Al-Zayani, who was also on stage, sought to calm the differences in his statements. However, he also stressed the importance of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution as envisioned in the Arab Peace Initiative.
The road to peace is not an easy road. “There will be many obstacles along the way,” he said. “There will be ups and downs. But the cornerstone of this path, the path to peace, is the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
In a clear reference to Iran, Al-Zayani added that resolving the conflict would also remove the pretext to justify some of the threats to regional security.