Saudi Arabia: No Deal on Jerusalem : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Saudi Arabia: No Deal on Jerusalem Friday September 15, 2000 3:20 am

NEW YORK (AP) - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah said Thursday there can be no compromise over East Jerusalem and offered his country's backing to Palestinians negotiating a final settlement with Israel.

``There is nothing to negotiate about and compromise on when it comes to Jerusalem,'' the crown prince told a group of Arab-American and Muslim leaders at a New York hotel.

``Jerusalem is important to the hearts of all Muslims and in fact it's in the heart of everybody with a sense of humanity. This is something on which there can be no compromise,'' he said.

The crown prince, who has been running the affairs of Saudi Arabia since King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, came to New York for the U.N. Millennium Summit.

Many in the group of several dozen people attending the session applauded his comments on the sensitive issue of East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel claims both Arab eastern and the Jewish Western sector as its capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.

Jews revere the walled compound they call Temple Mount in the Old City as home of their ancient temples. To Muslims, the plot is the Noble Sanctuary, the spot where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.

Talks in Camp David in July broke up over the question of sovereignty in Jerusalem. Mediators have floated possible compromises such as international sovereignty or even divine sovereignty - putting God in charge - while other proposals suggested deferring the question of sovereignty to a later date.

The backing of Saudi Arabia, home to the other Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina, for any deal on Jerusalem is viewed as crucial. Saudi Arabia is also the richest Arab country and a key U.S. ally in the region.

Abdullah didn't answer specifically when asked whether Saudi Arabia and other Arab states were playing a role in negotiations, saying only that Saudi Arabia backed the Palestinians in their talks with Israel.

At the United Nations later Thursday, Saudi Arabia emphasized its backing for Palestinian sovereignty in East Jerusalem, saying ``Israel is making a big mistake'' if it thinks it can achieve peace without addressing Palestinian rights to return to their homeland and establish their state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Syria also backed ``full Palestinian sovereignty'' over East Jerusalem and suggested that there can be little concessions on the Old City.

Syria's own negotiations with Israel were stalled earlier this year over the scope of a proposed Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.,3561,419253,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, September 14, 2000

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