An Olive Branch or a Stick?

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Q: Can Prime Minister Sharon bring Israel into peace negotiations?

A: What is he doing in Ramallah? His history is not a history of a peace-loving man. But I paraphrase Clemenceau: Peace is too important to leave to the politicians. If it is peace the Israelis want, it is there for the taking. All the past Israeli governments have been equivocating with us, making demands that are not tenable. If they want peace, then peace they will have if they return the territory. We know what kind of anxiety exists there. Their former Prime Minister, Mr. Rabin, said, "Enough is enough." Enough is enough.

Q: Skeptics say your plan is nothing new.

A: The new thing, the important new thing, is that the Israelis have, in one shot, peace with the whole Arab world.

Q: Why is Saudi Arabia taking a leading role in the peace process?

A: We see that Israeli policy is determined to pursue a war in order to cow the Palestinians into submission. We see the inaction of the rest of the world. Nobody is willing to save the Palestinians.

Q: Could the conflict spread?

A: Sharon is driving the Middle East toward the precipice. Israelis rely on the superiority of their arms now. But how long will the superiority last? The Arab countries will not remain, 10 or 20 years from now, with their hands tied behind their backs, and see their brethren dying. We are graduating from the Arab world more scientists than there are citizens in Israel.

Q: Crown Prince Abdullah meets President Bush this month. What are Saudi expectations?

A: It is only the United States that supports Israel in every way--politically, economically and militarily--and that affects the policies of Israel. If it continues this guarantee of support, indiscriminately--"Whatever you do, client state Israel, we will be backing you regardless of the actions that you take"--then peace is not going to come.

Q: Don't Israelis have legitimate concerns about terrorism?

A: What should strike fear into the hearts of Israelis are the policies of Mr. Sharon. Who created the terrorists that he complains about? Those who are treating Palestinians as less than human.

Q: Are Arabs truly ready to accept Israel?

A: If they turn away from war, of course. Why not? What do we have against the Jewish people? They are part of our world.

Q: Isn't it hard to imagine an Israeli embassy in Riyadh?

A: Normal relations mean relations like with any other state. If we have an [Israeli] embassy in Saudi Arabia and a [Saudi] embassy in Tel Aviv, that is what happens between states.