Saudi FM: Israel is acting like a spoiled child
Prince Saud al-Faisal: When other countries violate the law they are punished, but not Israel.
The Saudi foreign minister on Saturday criticized Israel's settlement construction and said the country acts like a spoiled child because the international community is not tough enough in pressuring it to make concessions.
Prince Saud al-Faisal told a press conference in Riyadh that Washington and other players in Mideast peace efforts should take a firm and serious stand to put an end to Israeli construction on land Palestinians want for a future state.
"Israel's announcement Monday that it plans to build building nearly 700 new apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem is a source of worry, which we strongly condemn," he said.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital and say each expansion of Jewish housing there is making partition as part of a future peace deal more difficult. The U.S., the Palestinians and the European Union condemned the new Israeli building plan.
Israeli-Palestinian talks broke off a year ago, and the Palestinians refuse to restart talks until all Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is halted. The Palestinians rejected a partial 10-month Israeli settlement freeze as not enough.
The Saudi foreign minister said the international community needed to get tougher with Israel.
"The reason why a solution cannot be reached is the preferential treatment that Israel gets," he said. "When other countries violate international law, they get punished, except for Israel. If war crimes are committed, other countries get punished, except Israel."
"Israel has become in the international community like a spoiled child," he said. "It does what it wants without being questioned or punished."
Saud spoke after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country has long been Israel's closest ally in the Muslim world, though relations were strained over last winter's war in Gaza.
Davutoglu said Israel should "end the catastrophe and calamity in the Gaza Strip" and should freeze settlement building.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday presented President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt with ideas for restarting the peace talks. Egyptian officials did not divulge specifics. Egypt, the first of two Arab countries to make peace with Israel, frequently mediates between the Jewish state and the broader Arab world.
U.S. envoy George Mitchell, who has for months been trying to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, is expected in the region in the coming weeks.
The Saudi foreign minister said solutions to the most difficult issues - including final borders, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees - should be presented for negotiation. If the parties fail to reach a settlement, then the International Court of Justice should get involved, he said.
Saud said Israel will be the first country to be threatened from the instability that will result if there is no peace in the Middle East.
Saud and the Turkish foreign minister also spoke about Iran's nuclear program and expressed support for diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving international suspicions that Tehran intends to develop a nuclear weapons capability.
Iran says its nuclear work is only for electricity production.
Saud said his country is negotiating with the Iranian government over the return of a daughter of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to Saudi Arabia.
Eman bin Laden turned up at the Saudi Embassy in Iran more than a month ago after eluding guards in Iran who have held her, her sister and four brothers under house arrest for eight years.
It has long been believed that Iran has held a number of bin Laden's children since they fled Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion of that country in 2001.