Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal staunchly criticizes Israel at security summit

  • Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal strongly criticized Israel at a security summit in Bahrain.
  • The summit was remotely attended by the Israeli foreign minister via a video conference.
  • The Israeli foreign minister rejected Prince Turki’s ‘allegations’ against Israel.

(Mazen Mahdi/AFP)

Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal strongly criticized Israel and dubbed it a “Western colonizing” power on Sunday during a Bahrain security summit remotely attended by the Israeli foreign minister.

Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who led the Saudi intelligence for more than two decades, told the Manama Dialogue that any normalization deal with Israel should help Palestinians gain statehood.

Prince Turki bin Faisal opened his remarks by contrasting what he described as Israel’s perception of being “peace-loving supporters of high moral principles” versus what he narrated as a far-darker Palestinian reality of living under a “Western colonizing” power.

(Mazen Mahdi/AFP)

Israel has “incarcerated in concentration camps under the flimsiest of security accusations – young and old, men and women, who are rotting there without recourse to justice,” Prince Turki said.

“They’re razing homes as they wish, and they assassinate whomever they want.”

‘An open wound.’
Turki bin Faisal
(Mazen Mahdi/AFP)

The prince also criticized Israel’s unannounced arsenal of nuclear weapons and the Israeli government’s “unleashing their political minions and their media channels from other states to denigrate and demonize Saudi Arabia.”

In unusually blunt language, he accused Israel of depicting itself as a “small, existentially threatened nation, surrounded by bloodthirsty killers who want to eliminate her from existence.”

“And yet they confess that they want to be friends with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The prince reiterated the kingdom’s official position that the solution lies in implementing the Arab Peace Initiative. 

The Arab Peace Initiative is a 2002 Saudi-sponsored deal that offers Israel full ties with all Arab countries in return for Palestinian statehood on territory Israel captured in 1967.

He added: “You can’t treat an open wound with palliatives and pain killers.”

Turki bin Faisal
(Mazen Mahdi/AFP)
Israeli response.

The fiery remarks by Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud at the Manama Dialogue appeared to catch the Israeli foreign minister off guard.

Prince Turki listens to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi addressing via videoconference the Manama Dialogue security conference in Manama, Bahrain. (AFP/Mazen Mahdi)

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi immediately took to the stage after Faisal and said: “I would like to express my disappointment on the comments of the Saudi representative.”

(AFP/Mazen Mahdi)

“I do not believe that they reflect the spirit and the changes taking place in the Middle East,” he said.

Ashkenazi later tweeted: “The false allegations of the Saudi official at the Manama Dialogue don’t reflect the facts or the spirit & changes the region is undergoing.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, also on stage for the tense exchanges, sought to smooth the differences.

Still, he too pressed the importance of a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict established on a two-state solution as envisioned by the Arab Peace Initiative.

Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud.

Prince Turki is a senior Saudi prince who led the Saudi intelligence for more than 20 years and served as ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom.


Though he now holds no formal position, his stance is seen as closely mirroring that of King Salman.

However, the king’s assertive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is seen having a greater willingness to quietly engage with Israel to counter familiar rival Iran and boost foreign investment in the kingdom.

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