Saudi Arabia's Policy to Middle East Peace Process

Extracts from speeches addressed to those making the Pilgrimage to Makkah in AH 1417 / AD 1997 by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz, and the Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard of Saudi Arabia.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has continued to hold the same position of giving support to a just and comprehensive peace which will bring an end to oppression and which will return occupied Arab lands to their own people in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.

In relation to Jerusalem and the construction of Israeli settlements there, the stand of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one which is completely clear and to which it has given expression many times. The Kingdom deplores and condemns all actions in Jerusalem which are in conflict with the nature of the city and with the legitimate rights of its Arab population therein.

It is therefore essential that there should be co-ordination and intensification of all efforts which have positive good intentions in order to accelerate the process of bringing about a just and comprehensive peace. Moreover there should be an abandonment of procrastination and delaying tactics so that there may be due scope for the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions for the return of the occupied Arab lands and for the establishment of a Palestine state with Jerusalem as its capital."

From the very beginning, Saudi Arabia has supported and defended the Palestinian cause and continues to do so, right up to the present day. That cause has been and continues to be at the center of the Kingdom's concerns. Saudi Arabia has emphasized at every opportunity that the peace sought is a just and comprehensive one based on United Nations resolutions and on international law, a peace which secures for the Palestinian people all their rights on the basis of resolutions 242 and 338 which affirm the right of Palestinians to self-determination and Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories.

It was on this basis that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd, when he was Crown Prince, launched his initiative which was adopted in September 1982 by the 12th Arab Summit Conference held in the Moroccan city of Fez. That plan embraced the necessity of Israeli troops withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories including Arab Jerusalem and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

This peace plan was followed by the peace process which led to the Madrid Conference of October 1991. The Kingdom has participated in its deliberation and the subsequent multilateral talks in the belief that such talks are complementary to bilateral negotiations and not a substitute for them.

The question of Jerusalem, in the view of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represents the very essence of the Palestinian cause and the core of the Arab-Israeli dispute. The future of the whole peace process depends on the way in which this question is dealt with.

On 22 September 1996 the Israeli Authorities opened the underground passage close to the Noble Sanctuary in occupied East Jerusalem. The Kingdom dispatched the Deputy Foreign Minister to participate in the UN Security Council debate on these developments which the Kingdom regarded as not only grave in themselves but as a clear revelation of Israeli intentions with regard to the city of Jerusalem. These were to work for its Judaicization and to encourage extremist Jewish elements to intensify their destructive activities within the Noble Sanctuary with the aim of eliminating the Arab Israeli present in Jerusalem and giving a cloak of legitimacy to Israeli plans. The position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was and remains that any solution to the question of Jerusalem must take into account the findings of international law and also UN Security Resolutions 252 and 267 which relate to Jerusalem.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gives the strongest endorsement to all the resolutions of the Islamic Conference Organization relating to the issue of Palestine and to Jerusalem, the latest of which followed the close of the Islamic Summit Conference held in Islamabad in Pakistan from 22 to 23 March last.

The final communique of the Conference affirmed that Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 and that anything which applies to the territory must apply to Jerusalem. The Conference called upon the international community to have Israel comply with all international resolutions relating to the city of Jerusalem and to desist from all measures, practices and decisions which have the object of:

The Conference also called for a further intensification and co-ordination of all efforts to ensure the return of Jerusalem to its rightful owners as the capital of the State of Palestine, and thus to guarantee peace and security in the region.

It is worth mentioning on this occasion that the total Saudi aid to the Palestinian cause, whether on the official level of government (the major part) or on the popular one, is of the order of SR 7 billion, equivalent to US 1.87 billion dollars.

In spite of the burdens facing the Kingdom in building up a sophisticated economy and in spite of the huge scale of its international obligations in the difficult circumstances through which the world economy is passing, the Kingdom participated in the international donors' conference held in Washington, D.C. in October 1993 to provide financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the occupied Arab territories. The Kingdom has allocated US 100 million dollars for this purpose and in addition Saudi Arabia participated in the meeting of donor countries held in October 1995 when it announced the allocation of a further US 100 million dollars. Thus Saudi Arabia is among the largest single contributors of aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, as reported on 3rd February 1997 by the London Arabic daily Al-Quds (quoting the Palestine News Agency, WAFA) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to undertake the financing of an Islamic Cultural Center in East Jerusalem, and will also provide interest-free housing loans for Arab residents of Jerusalem.

WAFA also confirmed that an agreement on this subject has been signed between Saudi Development Bank and the Supreme Islamic Authority, totaling US 5 million dollars, and that the Saudi Bank has approved in principle the underwriting of individual housing loans for Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. The Saudi Development Bank will provide long-term interest-free loans to Palestinians of Jerusalem who are in possession of building permits.

It is worth noting that a broadcast on Palestinian Radio on 16th May 1996 quoted President Arafat as saying that "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country which did not stop its support to the Palestinian Authority". The radio commented that Saudi Arabia's stand vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority reaffirms the Kingdom's commitment and its sincere obligation in the support of all Arab and Moslem people.

To quote a recent book "BEFORE HISTORY SPEAKS MEN AND ISSUES" by the Palestinian journalist, Adil Ahmed Abu-Hashim,

'In the dictionary of Saudi political action the cause of Palestine is a Saudi cause!'

The author quotes many words and deeds of King Abdul-Aziz and of his sons who came after him. The final instance which he quotes is a statement by the Custodian of the Two holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz:

'The cause of Palestine which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always placed at the top of its priorities will always have that position for us because this issue is linked to positions of principle and to an encompassing vision which embraces the higher Arab interest and necessities of comprehensive Arab security.'

Addressing the subject of stands taken by King Abdul-Aziz in support of the Palestinians the author says,

'King Abdul-Aziz was one of the first to support the idea of supplying the Palestinians with money and arms to enable them to defend themselves and their lands. He subsequently took the courageous step of sending Saudi volunteers to support their Palestinian brothers in their heroic struggle. Pure Saudi blood nourished the soil of Palestine. At that time the Saudi force had the honor of contributing to the preservation of the Arabism of the Gaza Strip and preventing its loss. When King Abdul-Aziz took part in the departure ceremonies for his heroic volunteers leaving for Palestine, he spoke those famous words of his,

"The sons of Palestine are like my sons - and so, spare no effort to help them liberate their land."

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