Al Arabiya News Channel | 7 February 2010
Rejects Ayalon’s claims over Saudi support to Palestine
Handshake Israeli apology to Saudi: Prince Turki
RIYADH (Al Arabiya)Saudi’s former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Sunday Israel’s deputy foreign minister shook hands with him at a Munich security conference to apologize for his affront to the kingdom.
Prince Turki told Al Arabiya that Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon “indirectly addressed himself to me by saying that ‘the person from a certain country with a lot of oil refused to sit on the same panel with me.’”
The former Saudi ambassador to the United States added that Ayalon also said that “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with all its wealth, has not given a penny to the Palestinian Authority.”
Prince Turki said his response was that he did not object to sitting on the same panel with Ayalon because the latter is an Israeli diplomat but because of Ayalon’s “boorish conduct with the Turkish ambassador to Israeli Ahmet Oguz Celikkol.”
In January Ayalon made a show of publicly humiliating Celikkol to demonstrate displeasure with a Turkish television show critical of Israel.
“I also refuted his claim about my country’s support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by reminding him that the Kingdom has given more than $500 million in the last five years to the PA as a stop-gap measure,” Prince Turki added.
“Mr. Ayalon then asked me to come up to the podium to shake hands to show that there were no hard feelings,” he added. “I pointed to him that he should step down from the podium and come to me and when we stood face-to-face he said that he apologized for what he had said and I replied that accept his apology not only to me but also to the Turkish ambassador.”
The panel had been set to feature speakers from Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
But disagreements led to splitting the panel into two sessions. The first featureed Prince Turki, Egyptian diplomat Hossam Zaki and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The second session featured Ayalon, Russian academic Igor Yurgens and U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Prince Turki said Lieberman “initially had challenged my presumed objection to sitting with the Israeli deputy foreign minister, but after he heard my words, he also, graciously regretted that he had misunderstood my conduct.”
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