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Saudi King’s Statement About Israel Seen As Tactic in the Arab ‘peace Offensive’

May 30, 1975
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Remarks by King Khalid of Saudi Arabia to an American newspaperman that his country would accept Israel’s existence if Israel met certain Arab conditions, including the establishment of a Palestinian state on its eastern borders, was seen here today as a tactic in the Arab “peace offensive” that has been launched as President Ford is about to personally take up the reins of American Mideast diplomacy while his reassessment of American policy in that region continues.

Khalid’s interview with Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post’s foreign service which appeared on the Post’s front page last Sunday, was not published in Saudi Arabia or anywhere in the Arab world, inquiries by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency disclosed. It was viewed by observers here as part of an effort to persuade the U.S. not to change its policy of military and technological assistance to Saudi Arabia rather than a shift in that country’s policy toward Israel.

According to Hoagland’s dispatch from Riyadh, the Saudian capital, Khalid said “his nation would concede Israel’s right to exist in its pre-1967 borders in return for total Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands occupied in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan.” Similar statements have been made by other Arab leaders, notably King Hussein of Jordan who visited Washington last month


Hoagland pointed out in his dispatch that “Khalid’s remark fell far short of offering the diplomatic recognition and normal relationships that Israel has demanded from the Arab states as part of a final peace settlement.” Nevertheless, he observed that “Khalid became the first Saudi ruler to declare explicitly that his deeply conservative nation would accept Israel’s existence.” A well placed American official here noted that what the King said is not so important but that he said so publicly is significant.

But four days after publication of the Hoagland interview, U.S. sources said they found no trace of the King’s reported remarks in the Arabic media either in Saudi Arabia or in any other Arab land. At the Saudian Embassy here, the JTA was informed by Rose Lema, the information officer, that she did not know whether the King’s remarks were or would be published in Saudi Arabia.

Khalid Gahman, an official at the Embassy’s visa office told the JTA that regulations governing the issuance of visas have not changed. He said applicants are required to reveal their religious affiliation and Jews are refused visas except in rare cases.

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