Prince Turki Al-Faisal
WASHINGTON: Prince Turki Al-Faisal extolled Americans to follow the legacy of their US constitution and stand up for the rights of Palestinians.
He was given a standing ovation from the US audience when he made this statement at the 20th annual National Council on US-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) on Friday.
He also said America must uphold the “territorial integrity of Iraq,” saying that the US invasion of Iraq meant US should “push forward” a UN Security Council resolution to maintain Iraq’s territory and “to see that the rest of the world abides by it.”
Prince Turki was also blunt in his assessment of Israel’s treatment of the current US administration, which he called “an incredible and phantasmagoric situation.”
He said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “lecture” in the Oval Office to President Barack Obama during a recent visit “on what Israel will and will not do” left him “flabbergasted by the audacity of (Netanyahu) the man.”
Viewed by many analysts here as a skilled diplomat, Prince Turki urged the US to support the upcoming UN vote on Palestine.
Praising America’s democratic history and quoting Thomas Jefferson to underline his point, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom asked how the US could stand before Palestinians “when they want to declare their state with the most reasonable and most legitimate and unalienable right that they have, like any other state, and the US says it will veto that.”
He called such a move “unacceptable.” Such a veto, he added, would affect America’s relations with its global partners.
“You as Americans cannot accept that. And we, as Arabs, will not accept that,” said Prince Turki. “And this is where my contention that America’s vetoing of statehood for Palestine, not only will affect the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US, but also with the rest of the world, and not just the Muslim world, but the whole global community that accepts Palestine as a state, and it is only the US that objects to that.”
He added: “This is something that only Americans can fix. But what I can say is that all of us in the Arab world, including me, truly want the Americans to fix this because of our friendship with you.”
Making a veiled reference to Iran when Prince Turki discussed Iraq’s need for a UN Security Council resolution on its country’s integrity, he said: “This will not only quell any internal centrifugal ambitions within Iraqi society and politics, but also will hopefully challenge any outside ambitions that many develop on the territorial integrity of Iraq.”
Currently chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Prince Turki, known as an outspoken figure on international affairs, said the situation in Iraq is “still unresolved and still work in progress….with a government that is still unrepresentative of all of its people; and with clear and apparent interference from Iran.”
“It is the world’s responsibility to protect the territorial integrity of Iraq,” he said, and it is America’s duty to “push that Security Council resolution through and to see that the rest of the world abides by it.”
Addressing what he called “the perennial and lamentable open wound of Palestine,” he said the world is watching “a people who are still occupied, who are still colonized, whose territory is still being stolen day by day by an occupying force that defies all of the UN resolutions and international law … and without accountability to anyone.”
And, when the US administration took “a stand on settlement building in Israel, the result,” said Prince Turki, “was that Israel defied the US and not only continued to increase the settlements, but also challenged the leadership of the US in trying to achieve peace between the Israelis and their neighbors.”
The prince said NCUSAR “is one of the instruments and one of the institutions that works to overturn what is definitely an unjust position by your country. And I see faces of others (here) who are equally committed to that principle of overturning the injustice of your political position on Palestine. I wish you success.”