Saudi FM says Israel behaves like 'spoiled child'



RIYADH, Paul Handley - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Saturday that Israel acts like a "spoiled child" and stalls Middle East peace talks thanks to easy international treatment.
"We can't reach a solution with the preferential treatment that Israel gets," Prince Saud told a news conference in reply to a question on restarting the peace talks with the Palestinians.



Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal
"In the international community Israel has become like a spoiled child," he said after holding talks with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu which included "ample" discussion of the Palestinian-Israel problem.
The two foreign ministers called for Israel to halt all settlement expansion activities to enable peace talks to move ahead.
"There should be a freeze on the settlements in all the occupied territories and especially east Jerusalem," Davutoglu said.
The Palestinians and their supporters maintain that Israel's continued building and expansion in settlements has blocked efforts from early last year to restart negotiations for an independent Palestinian state.
The two ministers, whose countries have played important roles in trying to relaunch the peace process, called on the international community to take a "stern and serious stance" against Israel's settlement policy.
"This policy casts doubt on (Israel's) seriousness in the peace process," Prince Saud said.
He also said an international "double-standard" had allowed Israel to get away with war crimes, without providing further details.
"Other countries who violate international law are punished," said the Saudi foreign minister.
Israel, along with Palestinian militants, have been accused of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during Israel's 22-day assault on the Gaza strip last year.
The attack, which began on December 27, 2008, left 1,400 Palestinians -- including more than 400 minors -- and 13 Israelis dead.
The Saudi-Turkish discussions on the Palestinian problem came four days after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Saudi King Abdullah held talks on the same issue, and ahead of an expected trip to the region by US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell.
Mitchell could bring with him draft letters of guarantee to Israel and the Palestinian Authority that Washington hopes would get talks moving again, an Arab diplomat in Cairo told AFP on Monday.
"The United States is hoping that the two letters will serve as a basis for the relaunch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations but we don't know if they will satisfy the Palestinians, who want a complete freeze of settlement activity before talks resume," the diplomat said.
Washington is under pressure from the Palestinians' supporters, including key regional US allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to take a firmer line against Israel and its settlements policy.
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Sunday, January 3rd 2010
Paul Handley
           


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