Handshake not acquiescence to Israeli stance, says Prince Turki

Prince Turki was quoted by Agence France Presse as saying on Sunday that his handshake at an international security conference in Munich should not be seen as acquiescence to Israel’s stance on Palestinian autonomy.
“My strong objections and condemnations of Tel Aviv’s policies and actions against the Palestinians remain unchanged,” he said.
The prince underscored the Kingdom’s stance that it would recognize Israel as an equal partner in the region and work to normalize relations only if it withdraws to pre-1967 borders and comes forward for peace negotiations.
The handshake between Prince Turki and Ayalon during a panel discussion at a Munich security conference settled a public diplomatic spat about seating arrangements. The conference took place over the weekend in the German city.
On Saturday, a panel convened on the topic of the Middle East peace process, was to include Prince Turki and Ayalon, as well as the Turkish foreign minister, US Sen. Joe Lieberman and senior Egyptian and Russian officials. But the panel was split into two, according to reports, and in the subsequent question-and-answer session, Prince Turki stood up in the audience and said that it was not he who had objected to sitting with Ayalon, but rather it was probably done due to Ayalon’s “boorish behavior” with Turkey’s envoy to Israel recently. The prince was referring to a public dressing down Ayalon gave to Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol recently.
The Israeli deputy minister later conceded that his behavior toward the envoy had been inappropriate for which an apology was offered.
After that, the Israeli politician got off the stage, came down to the prince in the course of the panel discussions and shook hands.
“This event should not be taken out of context or misunderstood,” said Prince Turki, who said the gesture is a recognition of public etiquette and manners.
“It is clear that Israel’s Arab neighbors want peace, but they cannot be expected to tolerate what amounts to theft committed on Arab lands,” the prince said after being questioned about the handshake.

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