According to an Israeli expert on global Islam, recent reports that Washington agreed to back a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital constitute more than a diplomatic manoeuvre aimed at shoring up Arab support for the current US-led war against terror.
Former senior editor and translator in the Prime Minister's Office and reserve IDF spokesman, Avi Lipkin, told ICEJ NEWS Thursday that a deal has indeed been signed between the US and Saudi Arabia pushing Israel back to its 1967 borders. The agreement was in place two weeks before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Lipkin said. HA'ARETZ reported Thursday that US President Bush sent a letter to the Saudis prior to the September 11 attacks, pledging his support for a Palestinian State.
Israel Channel Two reported last week that the US had given a settlement outline to the Saudis that was reminiscent of the Clinton plan. Components include an independent Palestinian state, the freezing of all settlement activity, Jerusalem as the capital of both states and Palestinian sovereignty over Muslim segments of the city, including the Temple Mount.
The administration's initiative, first reported on October 1 on the New York Times's Web site, was due to present - in the form of a speech by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN General Assembly - general principles for settlement of the most difficult issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the aid of US intervention.
THE WASHINTON POST reported on October 2 that the planned speech was derailed by the September 11 attacks. According the report, sources familiar with the early September preparations said Powell had planned to discuss the initiative with the Saudi ambassador to the US, on September 13. Furthermore the administration was purportedly contemplating a meeting between US President Bush and PLO Chief Yasser Arafat during the UN General Assembly meeting that had been scheduled to start 10 days later.
The initiative and the plan for a speech by Powell in mid-September had been approved by President Bush and by the National Security Council at a meeting at the White House days before the terrorist attacks, said the report. Bush told reporters in Washington Thursday that "overt diplomacy in the Middle East" had been "prevented" [he then modified the word] by the September 11 attacks.
Several sources familiar with the preparations reportedly said the State Department, along with CIA Director George J. Tenet, had been urging other members of the administration to launch a major Mideast initiative, and that "the Saudis were very heavily involved in it." The administration is also said to have received input from several European countries as well as from Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
According to the report, Powell's speech was being drafted by William J. Burns, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, with assistance from US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer and Ron Schlicher, U.S. consul general in Jerusalem.
Powell has said this week that the US will not force Israel to compromise on its vital interests. "So there should be no concern on the part of any Israel citizen or leader that the United States would ever do anything to sell them out or trade away their security," he said Wednesday on NBC-TV's Today program. "We will always support Israel's security. And it is the democratic nation in the region that we absolutely treasure as a friend," the Secretary of State added.
President Bush said last week in response to the reports that he supported the idea of a Palestinian State provided Israel's security was protected. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon subsequently warned "the Western democracies, and primarily the leader of the free world, the United States," against appeasing the Arabs at Israel's expense. The political echelons in Jerusalem only heard partial information about the reported US-Saudi plans, through unofficial channels, HA'ARETZ reported.
An October report card on the last decade by Defense Daily, carried by Arms Trade Newswire, makes clear that Saudi Arabia is the centerpiece of American strategic-economic priorities. Since 1991, the fundamentalist Islamic regime has received twice as much military armaments and equipment as the second largest recipient, Israel. Beyond the $35.5 billion showered upon the Saudis, America maintains troops and round-the-clock air and naval patrols and stations to protect the Saudis from their 'brother' Arabs, particularly Iraq.
In return, Saudi officials have said publicly that American troops must not use bases inside Saudi Arabia to launch attacks on other countries in the region, including Afghanistan. The Islamic capital has even asked British Prime Minister Tony Blair to cancel a planned visit to the kingdom, a Saudi-owned newspaper reported on Thursday.
Meanwhile, in a bid to solidify the expressed support of Egypt in the fight against terror, Blair agreed with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Thursday that terrorism is rooted - at least in part - in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For his part, President Bush told King Mohammed VI of Morocco Thursday that he supports a just solution to the conflict in the Middle East, which includes the end of the Palestinian problem, and the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, ITIM reported, citing Moroccan television Channel M2.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.