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December 06, 1991 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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60

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1991

Saudi Ambassador
Meets Jewish Leaders

New York (JTA) — Prince
Bandar Bin Sultan, the
Saudi Arabian ambassador
to Washington, met with
over 60 Jewish organiza-
tional leaders last week in
two meetings called at his
request.
The meetings, the first
high-profile, publicized
discussions between the
Saudis and Jewish leaders,
were termed a "break-
through" by one participant.

The ambassador was in
New York primarily for the
meetings with the board of
the American Jewish Con-
gress and the Conference of
Presidents of Major Ameri-
can Jewish Organizations.
"For the first time, the
barrier was removed'and we
engaged in dialogue," said
Presidents. Conference
Chairman Shoshana Cardin
following the closed
meetings.
Prince Bandar told the.
Jewish leaders that his
government has accepted
Security Council Resolution
242, and that Saudi Arabia
consequently no longer
questioned Israel's right to
exist.
"It's an integral part of the
region," Ms. Cardin quoted
the Saudi as saying.
Ms. Cardin praised the
prince for his "helpful role"
as Saudi representative at
the Madrid peace con-
ference, particularly in br-
inging the Egyptians around
for the direct talks with
Israel.
The prince emphasized the
importance of "confidence
measures" and "quids pro
quo" on all sides, said par-
ticipant Robert Lifton. Mr.
Lifton is president of the
American Jewish Congress,
which arranged the meeting,
as well as one earlier in the
day between the Saudi and
the AJCongress board.
These meetings, which
lasted several hours, follow-
ed four years of private talks
between the ambassador and
American Jewish Congress
officials, said Henry
Siegman, the organization's
executive director.
Mr. Siegman described the
ambassador as "a man of
good will, who is able to em-
pathize with Israeli leaders,
the problems they face in
making compromises.
"That kind of openness
and sensitivity is rare in the
Arab leaders Jews have met
with," said Mr. Siegman.
Mr. Bandar was quoted as
urging the Jewish leaders

not to let go of the peace pro-
cess.
"There has to be con-
fidence building," he was
quoted as saying.
As to the specifics of such
moves, he reaffirmed his
government's support for
Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak's proposal that
Israel freeze settlement-
building in exchange for the
lifting of the Arab boycott.
The ambassador predicted
that a freeze would signal
the end of the intifada, ac-
cording to Mr. Siegman.
"He said Israel didn't have
to renounce existing set-
tlements, or even the right
to build settlements in the
future. That would be work-
ed out in the negotiations,"
said Mr. Siegman.
But, according to another
participant, the prince did
not call for American Jewish
pressure on Israel. Public
criticism of Israel, the prince
was quoted as saying, would
result in public posturing
and be counterproductive.
The ambassador made it
clear that he did not "free-
lance," and that his views
reprdsented those of his
government. For their part,
the Jewish leaders stressed
that the meeting could not
be a substitute for direct
Saudi-Israeli dialogue.
The prince was reported
optimistic about the possibil-
ity that Syria would remain
in the process, both in the
bilateral, face-to-face
negotiations with Israel and
even in joining the
multilateral talks on re-
gional issues.
He repeated earlier Saudi
denials of a new request to
purchase F-15s from the U.S.

,

Excavations
Unearth Bodies

Tel Aviv (JTA) — Excava-
tions for a modern housing
development on the out-
skirts of Acre have unearth-
ed the bodies of a score of
French soldiers who died
nearly 200 years ago in
Napoleon's ill-fated attempt
to take the city.
The soldiers, whose failure
to take the city ended
Napoleon Bonaparte's cam-
paign against Syria, are to
be reburied with full
military honors in Haifa.
The French consul in
Haifa has accepted respon-
sibility for the reburial, in a
Haifa cemetery where other
French soldiers of the period
lie interred.

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