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SAUDI ARABIA: Prince Turki Al Faisal backpedals after shaking hands with Israeli politician

Just one day after shaking hands with the Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, to thunderous applause, Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki Al Faisal released a statement denying the gesture signals any change in official policy towards Israel.

"My strong objections and condemnations of Israel's policies and actions against the Palestinians remain unchanged," the former Saudi intelligence chief said in a statement released Sunday. "[Israel's Arab neighbors] should not be pressured into rewarding Israel for the return of land that does not belong to it in the first place."

"Until Israel heeds U.S. President [Barack] Obama’s call for the removal of all settlements, the Israelis must be under no illusion that Saudi Arabia will offer what they most desire — regional recognition."

The handshake was meant to ease tensions after a minor diplomatic row broke out over seating at an international security conference in Munich, Germany.

Picture 32 Ayalon accused Faisal of conspiring to split a panel that was to include representatives from several countries including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Russia and the U.S. because the Saudi did not wish to sit next to the Israeli.

Faisal said he objected to sitting next to Ayalon not because Ayalon was Israeli, but because of Ayalon's "boorish" behavior toward the Turkish ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol.

Ayalon was forced to apologize to Turkey last month after breaching diplomatic protocol with Celikkol in an attempt to shame the Turkish ambassador over a controversial television show.

The statement also said Faisal defended his country against Ayalon's accusation that Saudi Arabia had "not given a penny" to the Palestinian Authority, saying: "[I reminded] him that the Kingdom has given more than $500 million in the last five years to the PA as a stop-gap measure."

Ayalon apologized to Faisal and the two shook hands in a gesture of reconciliation, but presumably the Saudi caught enough flack for it to release a clarifying statement.

Saudi Arabia is often criticized for failing to take a tough stance against Israel, and even tacitly recognizing it, although it refuses to do so officially. In many Arab countries, shaking hands with an Israeli would mean political suicide, at least, and could even mean jail time.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Video: The audience cheers as the Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, left, and Saudi royal Prince Turki Al Faisal shake hands. Credit: YouTube

Comments () | Archives (3)

The Israeli's will never miss an occassion to insult the Arabs.


Germany as defeated power and the Germans as citizens remained - differently than after World War I - peaceful

Generosity versus „eye for an eye“ or four years versus forty years:
Europe and the Near East – two wars, two models, two options

Due to the undeservedly generous attitude and incomprehensibly forgiving behavior of the victorious party and the logically resulting peaceful behavior of the defeated party, Germany and Europe live on an island of peace and prosperity. “Hereditary” enemies have become closest friends. The European dream, Europe, the European Union has become reality.

[Germany as defeated power and the Germans as citizens remained - differently than after World War II - peaceful, because - differently than after that World War I – Germany was not humiliated by the winners, but 4 (four!) years after its defeat restructured as a state and supported economically, because not degrade, but as Germans inspit of what they had done respected again]

Due to the attitude and behavior of the victorious party - obviously adhering to the Lex Talionis (“eye for an eye”) - and somehow also due to resulting attitudes and behavior of the defeated party the Near East lives on a terrain of depletion, impoverishment, death, destruction. Enemies have remained enemies. To realistically think of an economic-political loose association would be cervantesque and quixotic. Instead of that a focus of political and social disasters has become reality, emitting and radiating slowly intensifying and rapidly globalizing terrorisms.

[About 40 (forty!) years after the Six-Day-War 1967 the Arab side is constantly in the process of incessant rebellion, because amongst other things they must feel to be constantly made fool of by the victorious party, to be constantly disrespected and humiliated]


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