Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Apology to Saudi Arabia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former Lebanese Prime Minister Dr. Salim al Hoss did well to apologize to Saudi Arabia for saying that Saudi invited Israeli President Shimon Peres to take part in a UN inter-faith conference to be held next week in New York.

After the Saudi Ambassador [to Lebanon], Abdel Aziz Khoja, clarified Saudi’s position regarding Israel’s invite to the inter-faith conference stating that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not responsible for extending an invitation to the Israeli president, ex-premier Salim al Hoss issued a statement that said, “I apologize for anything in my statement that has offended our big sister, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, directly or indirectly.”

This was an excellent gesture by al Hoss following this rift; but what about others in Lebanon who spread the lie and believed it!? Will they have to come out and apologize?

Riyadh was not responsible for inviting the Israeli president to the UN inter-faith meeting related to Item 45 entitled ‘A Culture of Peace.’ In fact, the invite came from the United Nations itself.

Whoever understands the basics of the United Nation’s work would realize the nature of the General Assembly meetings that are attended by all states including Lebanon and Syria, with the Israelis also present.

Those in Lebanon who distort and attack Saudi Arabia have an open goal; to say that Saudi Arabia invited the Israelis. In that case, there would be no difference in what Riyadh is doing and what Damascus is doing. This is an exposed ploy.

There is a difference between those who call for inter-faith dialogue that will benefit everyone and those who lecture us day and night about following the same path, unifying the Arab rank and about the right to self-defense and resistance, only to surprise everyone by engaging in dialogue with the Israelis even if this is done so indirectly.

We are not against peace nor are we against rationality; but we are against the outbidding that has caused our issues to be lost and our future to be gone with the wind. Even if some people in Lebanon seem to have bad memories, most of the Arab world remembers what was said against the backdrop of the 2006 summer war between Israel and Hezbollah.

At that time, heroic slogans were flooding the region, but after that we witnessed the Syrian-Israeli negotiations that were taking place indirectly and Syria begging for relations to be restored with Washington in almost all of Syria’s official statements.

That’s not all; we all saw Lebanon and Syria amongst the member states of the Mediterranean Union, side by side with Israel, and the Lebanese president attended the first conference of the Mediterranean Summit just as the Syrian president did. The Lebanese foreign minister returned from the Mediterranean summit in Marseilles immediately. Saudi Arabia’s critics know full well to whom the Lebanese foreign minister belongs.

What some people are doing in Lebanon is an attempt to wipe the political slate clean for Syria by distorting Saudi Arabia’s positions. Those people are forgetting that when Saudi Arabia presented its initiative to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it did not do so behind closed doors. Rather, it proposed a comprehensive Arab initiative and today it has presented an initiative for multi-faith dialogue that is now under the tutelage of the United Nations.