Saudi Arabia has dropped its support for a land-for-peace deal between Israel and the Arab world over fears of al-Qaeda attacks, an Israeli official said Saturday.
"We estimate the Saudis got cold feet over suspicions of Iran and fears ofterror attacks sponsored by Iran and al-Qaeda," the official said.
"According to our information, the royal palace was frightened, withdrew from the peace initiative and threw the political ball in the court of Jordanian King Abdullah," the official stated.
The official added that Egypt's Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman raised the issue of Saudi Arabia with US President George W. Bush during a visit to Washington last week.
When Bush announced plans to hold the conference in his speech about the Middle East last week, Saudi Arabia failed to announce whether it would attend the regional meeting. Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and President Mahmoud Abbas said they would be sending delegates to the conference.
Saudi Arabia said it was sticking to the Riyadh agreement between Fatah and Hamas and urged the rival Palestinian factions to form a national unity government.
The official added that Saudi Arabia feared isolating Hamas would push the Islamic group to throw itself into Iran's arms and exacerbate Tehran's financial support to radical Palestinian groups.
Saudi Arabia's stance set alarms ringing in Amman and prompted the Jordanian monarch to seek an emergency meeting with President Bush. The two leaders will meet in Washington on Tuesday.
Egyptian officials revealed last week that the American-sponsored conference on the Middle East would take place in September at an undisclosed location in the United States. Arab foreign ministers will with their Israeli and American counterparts in Egypt on August 31 to prepare for the conference.