Israeli officials said today they were not surprised at Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Fahd's suggestion that Israel's moves on Jerusalem could lead to a jihad, or holy war, because the threat merely reflects "the realities of the region."
They said that despite Fahd's tentative offer last May to join the Middle East peace process under certain conditions, Saudi Arabian leaders on several occasions before and since then have proposed a holy war against the Jewish state because of Israel's stand on Jerusalem.
Naftali Lavie, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, "We are not shocked nor surprised. It was known to us that this has been the position of Saudi Arabia for 30 years."
Lavie said that this has been the Saudi position "except on the rare occasions they needed a public relations campaign to prove they are moderate."
He characterized as an anomaly Fahd's statement to The Washington Post last May that if Israel declared a sincere intention to withdraw from all the territories captured in 1967, Saudi Arabia would encourage Arab states to join the peace process on the basis of U.N. Resolution 242.
In contrast, Lavie said, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal told the Beirut journal, Monday Morning, on July 27 that the U.N. resolution cannot serve as a basis for Middle East peace because it refers only to captured territory and ignores the question of Palestinian independence.
Lavie quoted Saudi Defense Minister Sultan ibn Abdul Aziz as saying in a June 3 Saudi military academy speech, "Saudi Arabia is determined to continue the jihad in a situation of peace or a situation of war. The aim of the jihad is to obtain the right that has been taken away -- the city of Jerusalem and a Palestinian state."