Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saudi King Proposes Land for Peace - in 1973

The people at the U.S. National Archives have a great sense of timing. Yesterday, the same day the Annapolis peace conference ended, they opened a sampling of newly-declassified items from the Nixon administration, one of which is a 1973 cable from the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia reporting on a meeting with King Faisal during which he (1) promised to stop funding Fatah terrorism, and (2) pressed the U.S. to force Israel to withdraw from Arab territories - not further specified - in order to bring peace to the Middle East.

The Washington Post has a story on it today: "A March 1973 State Department cable released yesterday by the National Archives recounts a promise by Saudi Arabia's King Faisal that terrorist threats to U.S. interests could be resolved as soon as Washington pressed Israel to withdraw from territory it had seized." And so, the peace process is back today to the same place it was at in 1973. I guess it's like clothing fashions; everything comes back into style if you wait long enough.

You can see the (somewhat blurry) cable at the Nixon Presidential Library website [here]. The important part is in paragraph eight.


Anonymous said...

I don't see how this is noteworthy.

There have been a number of offers of this type over the years from the Saudi side. In all cases I am aware of, the critical question was, what exactly did the Saudis mean by "conquored territory"? Their official position has long been that Israel doesn't exist, meaning that all land occupied by Israel would be "conquored territory"

TSB said...

John in MI,

I just think it's noteworthy in the sense of 'the more things change the more they stay the same.'

The exact location of that "occupied territory" is indeed the heart of the Arab-Israeli dispute. See my post from September on "Where Exactly is Palestine?" for a longer treatment of that subject.