To the Editor:
It is hard to think of anything more inappropriate than a senior, well-connected Saudi Arabian official threatening the United States on the op-ed page of The New York Times. But that is exactly what former Saudi ambassador Turki al-Faisal has done ("Veto a State, Lose an Ally," Sept. 12).
The irony of referring to the "special relationship" between the United States and Saudi Arabia on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is a rich one.
Mr. Al-Faisal's premises are simply wrong. If Saudi Arabia is interested in achieving statehood for the Palestinian people—a concept that has been endorsed by the last several Israeli governments, including the current one—all Saudi Arabia has to do is encourage the Palestinian leadership to accept the numerous invitations of Israel, the U.S., the Quartet and others to enter into direct negotiations with Israel.
Not only has Saudi Arabia refused to recognize or negotiate with Israel, its failure to support or encourage the 2000 Camp David talks may have had much to do with their failure.
Similarly, the Saudis' unwillingness to offer any positive steps in relation to Israel after President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech undermined the likelihood of that initiative succeeding.
Saudi Arabia will decide to support or oppose Prime Minister Nuri-al-Maliki's government in Iraq based on its own interests in Iraq vis-a-vis Iran and the survival of its own regime, exactly as it did in Bahrain. As the Arab Spring changes the landscape of the Middle East, all parties need to work harder to provide the right climate for the Israelis and Palestinians to undertake the hard bargaining necessary to achieve two states for two peoples. The Saudis have a crucial role to play in that. A meaningless U.N. resolution and threatening the United States is not going to bring that day closer.
Glen S. Lewy
Former National Chair