Saudi minister says all at Warsaw Mideast confab agreed Iran the major problem

Adel al-Jubeir reiterates Saudi support for Arab Peace Initiative, but says everyone at conference agreed Tehran ‘destabilizing security and stability in the region’

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir addresses the 14th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital Manama on October 27, 2018. (Stringer/AFP)
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir addresses the 14th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital Manama on October 27, 2018. (Stringer/AFP)

The head of the Saudi delegation to the US-Polish conference on the Middle East in Warsaw last week said participants all agreed that the major challenge facing the region was Iran.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, said in a tweet over the weekend that “everyone” at the confab in the Polish capital agreed that the leading challenge confronting the Middle East was “the Iranian role in destabilizing security and stability in the region.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior ministers of ten Arab countries attended the conference.

The summit appeared to be the first time an Israeli leader and senior Arab officials were attending an international conference centered on the Middle East since the Madrid peace conference in 1991, which set the stage for the landmark Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

Former US Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross and Arab officials on stage during a panel at the Warsaw summit on February 14, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

A video of a closed session leaked by Netanyahu’s office showed Jubeir, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan harshly attacking Iran’s Middle East policy.

Jubeir specifically lashed out at Iran for its support of terrorist groups around the region.

“Look at the Palestinians: Who is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and undercutting the Palestinian Authority? Iran,” he was seen saying in the leaked tape, referring to Gaza-based terror groups.

“We cannot stabilize the region without peace between Israelis and Palestinians, [but] wherever we go we find Iran’s evil behavior,” he said.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, US Vice President Mike Pence, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pose for a family photo at the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle east in Warsaw, on February 13, 2019. (Janek SKARZYNSKI/AFP)

Jubeir, who was Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister until late last year, also tweeted that the Kingdom still supports the Arab Peace Initiative.

“The Warsaw conference dealt with the Palestinian issue and I clarified the kingdom’s firm position on the Palestinian issue at it, which is based on the Arab Peace Initiative,” Jubeir tweeted.

The Arab Peace Initiative calls on Israel to agree to a two-state solution along the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, in exchange for Arab nations subsequently normalizing relations with it and declaring the Arab-Israeli conflict over.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting in Riyadh on February 12, 2019. (Credit: Wafa)

Hussein al-Sheikh, a close confidante of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, praised Jubeir for his tweet referencing the Arab Peace Initiative.

“All respect is due to the firm position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in adhering to the Arab Peace Initiative,” he wrote.

The Palestinians boycotted the Warsaw summit. The PA Foreign Ministry referred to the conference as “an American conspiracy intended to get the participants to adopt the US’s views on issues of the region, particularly the Palestine question.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) greets Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah at the sidelines of a regional conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, February 13, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Separately, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi told Germany’s Deutsche Welle in an interview published on Saturday that Muscat has considered Israel “for a period of time to be a country of the Middle East’s countries.”

Bin Alawi and Netanyahu met on Thursday at the Warsaw Intercontinental Hotel, where the Israeli premier was staying.

Netanyahu visited Oman in October, where he met Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Muscat. He was the first Israeli prime minister to publicly visit Oman in more than two decades.

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