Sharon Letter Shows Israel Responded to Saudi Peace Initiative

YERUSHALAYIM -

A letter written by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to then-Saudi King Abdullah in response to the Saudi-led Arab peace initiative of 2002 has come to light, disproving the common assertion that Israel refused to discuss the matter, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.

The letter of November 27, 2005, which was sent via a private courier who delivered it by hand to the king, welcomed Saudi involvement in the peace process.

“In light of Saudi Arabia’s central status in this region, and your Majesty’s political wisdom and foresight, we believe that your country can make an immense contribution to the success of this [peace] process,” it said.

“It is our hope that Saudi Arabia, under your Majesty’s strong leadership, will exert its power and influence to encourage the moderate forces in this region and advance the prospects of peace, stability and prosperity,” he wrote.

“I offer my hand in friendship and hope to have the opportunity to cooperate and work with you personally to advance our mutual goal of peace. I look forward to receiving your response.”

That response was not forthcoming, and Sharon was soon incapacitated by his two stokes.

A framed copy of the letter was presented to the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Museum in Or Yehuda, Israel, at a ceremony earlier this month.

The messenger was an Iraqi-born Jew named Moshe Peretz, who had access to Abdullah through a friendly relationship with the king’s brother-in-law.

At the museum ceremony, Yitzhak Levanon, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, called the letter an “important historical document,” showing that Israel was working quietly toward peace with the Arabs and Palestinians.

However, as the Post noted, neither Sharon’s or more recently Prime Minister Netanyahu’s efforts at regional peacemaking were reflected the remarks made at the U.N. by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Wednesday, where he accused Israel of terrorism and oppression.