Saudi prince urges Obama to change US policy on Israel

Israel had come close to killing the prospect of peace with its offensive in Gaza, Prince Turki al-Faisal said.

Saudi prince urges Obama to change US policy on Israel

A member of Saudi Arabia's royal family warned U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday the Middle East peace process and U.S.-Saudi ties were at risk unless Washington changed its position on the Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories.

Israel had come close to killing the prospect of peace with its offensive in Gaza, Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote in an article published on the Financial Times's website.

"Unless the new U.S. administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the U.S.-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk," said Turki, a former Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to the United States and Britain.

Israel killed 1,300 Palestinians with a quarter of children and wounded 5300 during the 22-day offensive, which ended with a ceasefire on Sunday.

Obama, sworn in as president on Tuesday, named former Senator George Mitchell on Thursday for Mideast.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration had left a "sickening legacy" in the Middle East, Turki wrote, singling out the Iraq occupation.

The Bush administration had also contributed to the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, said Turki, who currently holds no official government position in the world's top crude oil exporter.

"If the U.S. wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact -- especially its 'special relationship' with Saudi Arabia -- it will have to drastically revise its policies vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine," Turki wrote.

He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had written to Saudi King Abdullah last week urging Saudi Arabia to lead a holy war, against Israel.

This call for jihad would, if pursued, create "unprecedented chaos" in the region, said Turki.

"So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain," he said.

Turki urged Obama to condemn Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians.

Human rights group Amnesty International said Israel had committed war crimes on Monday over its use of white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza. Israel denied that.

Turki said Obama should condemn Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza and should call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the disputed Shebaa Farms area claimed by Lebanon.

He urged Obama to strongly promote a 2002 Saudi peace initiative, which calls for Israel's full withdrawal of lands occupied in 1967 and accepts a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Reuters

Last Mod: 23 Ocak 2009, 13:27
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