According to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, diplomatic sources reported that Saudi Arabia is working diligently on a proposal to end the current crisis in Lebanon. The report states that the proposal includes a ceasefire, prisoner exchange, Israeli withdrawal from Shaba farms, Lebanese armed forces deployment in southern Lebanon, and Hizbullah relocation to the north.
A senior Saudi official confirmed that Saudi Arabia intends to publish suggestions for a new ceasefire initiative in Lebanon, which were discussed during the recent visit of Saudi officials - Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal and Chairman of the National Security Council Bandar bin Sultan – in Washington.
The report reveals that Saudi heir apparent, Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz, discussed these proposals with French President Jacques Chirac, during his visit in Paris. He claims that the French "expressed enthusiasm."
According to the Saudi official, al Faisal and bin Sultan presented US president, George W. Bush with "ideas regarding an initiative to halt the deterioration of the current situation in Lebanon, and a cessation of attacks on the country." At the conclusion of a meeting with the president and US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, al Faisal demanded "an immediate ceasefire" in Lebanon.
As such, the Saudi proposal calls for a ceasefire as soon as possible, with negotiation of problems between Israel and Lebanon, including prisoner exchanges and guarantees of continued ceasefire, to be discussed after this objective has been achieved. The Saudi official added that Saudi Arabia desires the initiative to be international.
When fighting first broke out, Saudia Arabia openly blamed Hizbullah for its eruption. Correspondingly, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jabreen, a leading Wahhabi cleric in Saudi Arabia, issued a scathing fatwa against Hizbullah, declaring it against Muslim Sharia law to support, join, or even pray for the terror group. The fatwa also condemned Iran for funding and supporting Hezbollah to further what Jabreen called its imperial ambitions.
It seems that Saudi Arabia is not the lone Arab nation striving for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Egypt and Jordan are both taking similar steps. The London-based al-Sharq al wasat newspaper quoted diplomatic Egyptian sources as saying that Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are collaborating to find a solution to the crisis in Lebanon. The three states hope to present a crisis resolution initiative in an international conference on the Israel-Lebanon conflict that is to take place in Rome on Wednesday.
Sources confirmed that the initiative contains seven main clauses and efforts are being made to keep it as balanced as possible. The clauses include: immediate cessation of all military operations and rocket launchings; Israeli withdrawal from all Lebanese territories; deployment of international forces along the Israeli-Lebanese border; heightened involvement of Lebanese armed forces in southern Lebanon; honoring of Lebanese sovereignty and independence; implementation of UNSCR 1559.
Drafters of the initiative hope that these steps will lead to a prisoner exchange and an end to the current fighting in the north, through negotiation and international mediation.