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He Who Sows the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind…

He Who Sows the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind…

After the Arab Summit which took place in Beirut on March 27th, His Highness Prince Saoud Al Faycal, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia went to Paris and met with his French counterpart Mr Hubert Védrine, before he granted an interview to Christian Malard, Editor-in-Chief and Foreign Policy Analyst with France 3 TV Corporation in Paris. (Pictures: Alexandre Dupont).

Christian Malard: Your Highness, if we take into account the very tragic developments between Israelis and Palestinians, we have here the feeling that a real war is on the brink in the Middle East. Is this also your feeling? What are we up to ?

Prince Al Faycal: Yesterday, the only option that we heard from Mr Sharon is a declaration of war. He brought no new ideas, he brought no new thoughts to bring peace to his people and to the Palestinian people. People who have only one blinkered view that violence and force will create the conditions that satisfy them are not peacemakers.

Christian Malard: Sharon obviously doesn’t want to get back to the 1967 boundaries. The Saudi vision became the Arabic plan. How do you consider it to day, is it dead or not ?

Prince Al Faycal: Well, what was accepted by the Arab countries was an ultimate end to negotiations, the basis for peace. A peace that is built for security for Israel which is, presumably, what Mr Sharon wants or Mr Netanyahu and in exchange for return of Arab territory.

One thing must be made very clear from the beginning. You cannot want peace with the Arab countries and still hold the territories occupied in 1967. The choice is clear. It is a concept accepted by 242 and 338. It is a concept enshrined in the Madrid Conference. "Land for Peace".

This is the horizon that we are seeking. It sets an ultimate objective and a direction for peace negotiations ahead, which was lacking in all the peace efforts in the past. Plus the fact that, for the first time, it was offered on the table: full peace. That means peace with all the Arab countries. A signing of a peace treaty in one shot with the Israelis and normal relations with all the Arab countries.

If this is not a good proposal to seek, to pursue, to have the ideas, whether it is Tenet or Mitchell. And we believe the ideas of Mitchell and Tenet should be implemented in their entirety leading up to that objective. In the past, there was no objective to the negotiations, so they kept going back and forth, in vicious circles and not both sides agreeing to a concept to where they want to end.

Christian Malard: To day, your Highness, how can your plan be reactivated ?

Prince Al Faycal: Well, it is on the table. Sharon can fight all the wars he wants, in the final analysis, he will have to come to terms that Israel will have to live in the area with the people of the area, and this is a roadmap to that purpose.

If he refuses it, then he is doing damage to the Israeli people as much as he is doing damage to the Palestinian people.

Our hope, indeed, after his speech last night, the only hope remains that the Israeli people will not let this historic chance pass by without saying their will, without leaving the peace process to the politicians in Israel, to make them know they want to leave in peace, this is the way that you leave in peace. You want security, this is the road to security. Not through the guns of the battle.

Christian Malard: Your Highness, do you still consider Arafat and Sharon to be the men having the capacity to reach a global peace in the Middle East ? They both hate each other so much. Sharon having lived for more than twenty years with this "Arafat syndrome" …

Prince Al Faycal: Well, his hate for Arafat is preoccupying his mind more than the security of the Israeli people. And this is the tragedy of the situation. He complains of terrorist activities, he complains that this is a war on terror, terror and terror. But he has peace, peace and peace offered to him from the Summit Conference in Beirut. One man who has only one reaction to that peace proposal is somebody who has a blinked view and a dangerous man who perhaps will push the Middle East region all into a precipice, from which we cannot come out.

Hopefully, we can pull back from this horrible perception, and hopefully that the final word from Israel is not Mr Sharon’s.

Christian Malard: Do you consider that Chairman Arafat has been in control of the situation in the territories ? It seems that he might well have been overwhelmed by some Moslem fundamentalists groups: Hamas, Jihad or Al Aqsa brigades ? What do you think ?

Prince Al Faycal: The one who controls now the Palestinian territory is the Israeli army. Where are they? Have they finished to uproot the terrorist organisations that they accuse Yassir Arafat of lacking the vigour or the initiative to do so? They have not. Have they stopped the violence by their entering into Ramallah and the other areas in the occupied territories ? They have not. Have they accomplished the objective ?

What does Mr Sharon consider as an ultimate objective of this move into the Palestinian territory ? Yesterday I heard the speech that he delivered to the Israeli people and it sounded to me like hunting more than policy. It takes people of wisdom and people of good will to make peace. Not people who have syndromes of hatred as you call it. Unfortunately, Mr Sharon is not providing that leadership for the Israelis.

Christian Malard: What judgement do you bear on the political attitude of the Bush Administration. I have heard a lot of observers saying it's not very even ended that they take to much position for Mr Sharon and too much against Mr Arafat. What is your assessment on that?

Prince Al Faycal: Well, I think the formula for peace, there is an absolutely essential and crucial role that United States has to play, and that role is a role emanating from the fact that they are the main supporters of Israel.

They provide military, financial, economic, political support for Israel. So, if there is any side that can influence opinion and opinion-makers in Israel towards peace and towards choosing a path other than war, it is the United States.

This is the role that we hope that they will play. They can play it and if they do play it, we think the peace process will come back in track. They have done some good things in the past few weeks.

There is a resolution in the United Nations which, we hope, will be adopted now. Because there was the agreement of the United States. We hope for that there are at least observers, so that they can see who is starting the violence and who is maintaining the violence and not just accept the word of either side. And we hope that they push forward for implementation of the Tenet and the Mitchell plans in their entirety. Because it is a sequence that has to follow from each other.

You cannot maintain peace and the stopping of violence without moving on the political side too. And the Mitchell Plan is very clear. That it is the settlements that are the cause of all the instability in the Palestinian territory. It is these issues of substance that have to be dealt with immediately. If Peace is to range, if the cease-fire, whatever it is, it is going to be maintained.

The so-called terrorists that Mr Sharon is vowing to uproot, what are they ? An eighteen-years old woman strapping dynamite on her body, sacrificing herself.

Who caused this ? Who caused this feeling ?

That an eighteen-years old woman, in the prime of her life, with the future supposedly ahead of her, to reach such a stage of desperation that she is willing to give up her life just to show the point that she is not accepting. It is demeaning to the Palestinians. It is the violence that the Palestinians see. Any soldier from the Israeli army can enter the home of any Palestinian and get the whole family out. If a fire is shot from an area near that home, it is razed to the ground. Trees are uprooted, people are denying in such a way that they are not considered, except may be to the height above the stage of animal life

What can this produce in the end ? If you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. This is the policy that you have told the Palestinians. Certainly you would create extremist in them, certainly you would create suicide-bombers. Where were the suicide-bombers twenty years ago ? Indeed, where was the terror that saw and infuriated Mr Sharon twenty-years ago ? It was not there, the Palestinians were even inapt in making bombs but he made professionals out of these peoples. It is his policy and the policy of Israeli governments that came, one after the other, that brought this fact to bear. It is not the responsibility of Arafat. Arafat cannot convince people like this eighteen-years old woman to go and kill herself for no reason.

It is the policy of demeaning, of oppression, of people losing hope and seeing no result for themselves that causes this.

Christian Malard: Your Highness, in which terms will Crown Prince Abdallah and yourself ask President Bush to adopt a more balanced approach, more just, and put more pressure on Mr Sharon. In that context, are you

Prince Al Faycal: Well, what would be asked to the Americans is to pursue a policy that they have pursued before. President Bush senior had pursued the peace process and, in making the Madrid Conference, he was able to create a coalition between the Arab countries and the United States. So this is not a meaningless effort to say that if you do take a balance view, if you do work as an honest talker, if you do have a balanced approach, whether you like Yassir Arafat or not is not an important issue. It is the Palestinian issue that is important. They have to come up with an effort to achieve peace, to work in that direction, and to come with a total perception. To limit oneself to say that all terrorists acts must stop, all violence must stop, before we can go onto a political process, this is giving the political process in the hands of the extremists who don't want peace.

Logic says that you must pursue peace if you are at all going to be able to achieve it. And you can't come in to a peace process with a convocation. That if somebody doesn't do this, then I stop. Or I have these conditions that have to be applied. That must decide any negotiation. You come with it with full determination That you are not going to leave anything to stop you. That you are determined to pursue it and, whichever side is working aga

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).