Saudi Links Withdrawal from Kuwait to Solution of Palestinian Problem

The Saudi Arabian foreign minister made a strong linkage Tuesday between resolving the crisis in the Persian Gulf and settling the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Iraqi forces must leave Kuwait, “so that we can mobilize international legality to realize for the people of Palestine what will be realized for the people of Kuwait.”

Chastising Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Faisal said that a country which “claims a monopoly over the salvation of Palestine” is “following the same Israeli method of occupying the land, dispersing the people and refusing withdrawal.”

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he said, gives Israel “international justification to consecrate occupation and to empty the homeland from its people and replace them with immigrants.”

The Saudi speech came a day after President Bush told the General Assembly that Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait could create an “opportunity” for forging Arab-Israeli peace.

Both Israeli officials and American Jewish leaders argued Tuesday that this statement did not in any way imply a connection between resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis and the Palestinian question.

“There was no linkage and it shouldn’t be presented that way,” Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said.

The Bush administration, Levy said, had given him its view that “an aggressor should not get away with his aggression.”

Seymour Reich, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued a statement expressing “concern” that media reports of the speech “appeared to imply a linkage between Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

According to Reich, “administration officials have repeatedly taken pains to state that there can be no linkage of the two situations and that there is none in their minds.”

Nevertheless, he called on the White House to issue a clarification, in order to “assure that the administration’s position remains unambiguous and unequivocal.”

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