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September 28, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10814

Saudi Journalist: We Must Not Miss Another Historic Opportunity For Peace With Israel; Courageous Leaders Make Decisions That Promote Their People's Security And Wellbeing

September 28, 2023
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 10814

Amid reports about moves towards normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and following the September 21, 2023 interview given by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman on Fox News, in which he said that normalization is getting "closer" every day, Saudi journalist and economic analyst Ali Al-Mazyad published an article in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat in which he urged the Arabs to seize this historic opportunity for peace with Israel and not to miss it like past opportunities. The Arabs, he said, must realize the vast potential of peace to boost the economy and bring prosperity to the region, and understand that these benefits can only be realized by courageous leaders that care about the welfare of their people, hinting at Muhammad bin Salman.


Ali Al-Mazyad (Image: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London)

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]

"Like anyone in the world interested in the Saudi issue and in the affairs of the Middle East, I listened to the interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The interview dealt with many issues, but I will focus on three that concern us [Saudis]. The first is the attainment of security in the region, starting with reconciliation with the neighboring countries and ending with Israel. When countries exist in [a state of] tension that is a far cry from peace, a large part of [their] income is allocated to the military effort, instead of the development of the economy, and as a result the people lose much of [their] wellbeing and [their ability to] live in peace and security…

"A quick review of the situation with Israel reveals that we Arabs have missed numerous opportunities to achieve a just peace with it. First there was the 1965 initiative of then Tunisian president [Habib] Bourguiba[2] and the speeches [he delivered] as part of it from [various] podiums, which led to nothing new and only made things worse for our brothers the Palestinians. Then there were the Camp David Accords,[3]  which the Arabs boycotted only to discover that they were the ones hurt [by boycotting it]. This eventually prompted them to agree to the Oslo Accords, whose benefits were smaller.

"Today we face a historic opportunity because circumstances have emerged that allow its realization. The Arabs should thoroughly examine all the opportunities for peace they have missed, and examine their [current] position on peace based on what they can do to attain better lives for the Palestinians and for the peoples of the region – instead of rejecting initiatives without justification and later agreeing to other, inferior initiatives.

"The second topic [Bin Salman addressed in the interview] was the domestic one. The crown prince noted that we had many opportunities in Saudi Arabia that we did not seize as we should have, and therefore we will never again miss opportunities but move at lightning speed to transform them into reality. For investment in numerous projects such as mining, tourism and the like will create jobs and reduce the dependency on oil, which is ultimately a finite resource, even if [it will only run out] in a very long time. Moreover, if you start certain projects and they are a success, they will generate complementary projects and attract foreign investors. Saudi Arabi can launch such projects, especially since it does not lack money or the minimal human resource required for this.

"The third topic was the economic [trade] corridor between India and Europe, which passes through our region.[4] We are ready for Saudi Arabia to become a logistical center connecting East and West, thanks to numerous projects Saudi Arabia has already announced, such as developing the sea ports and creating many logistical areas.

"What interests us Arab peoples is living in prosperity, far from poverty and the [hectic] pursuit of livelihood. This can happen only when there are courageous leaders who assess our situation far from the speeches delivered on podiums and then make decisions that enable lives of prosperity. This is what the peoples yearn for…"

 

 

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London). September 24, 2023.

[2] The reference is to a proposal outlined by Bourguiba in 1965, which called for an Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for its withdrawal to the Partition Plan borders and the return of the Palestinian refugees. His statements were rejected both by the Arab world and by then Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol.

[3] The Camp David Accords: The Framework for Peace in the Middle East, signed in 1978 by U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, paved the way to the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in March 1979.

[4] On September 9, 2023, on the margins of the 2023 G20 New Delhi summit, the U.S., India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the EU signed a memorandum of understandings to promote a vast infrastructure project to connect Europe, the Middle East and India with a network of railways, shipping lines, high-speed communication cables and energy transfer pipelines. The aim of this economic corridor is to facilitate trade in goods and services between all the parties to the understandings. According to some reports, the project may include a railway between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Many analysts believe that the project is intended to block Chinese influence in the Middle East.

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