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NY mayor rejected Alwaleed’s check ‘under Zionist pressure’

JEDDAH, 14 October — Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal has said New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani has rejected his $10 million donation for the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center following Zionist pressure.

"Although Prince Alwaleed in his statement (in New York) strongly denounced terrorism, his stance on the US foreign policy was not to the liking of Mayor Giuliani and some US media," said a statement issued by the Kingdom Holding Company, of which Prince Alwaleed is chairman.

The prince stood by his statement that "it is time the United States was fair with the Arabs, chiefly with regard to the Palestinian cause."

Alwaleed told Okaz newspaper in remarks published yesterday that he had made the donation to the fund set up to help families of emergency service workers killed in the Sept. 11 attack in order to "show that we are against terrorism."

He said he was saddened by the terrorist act and thought that he should take the opportunity to bridge the gap between the Arab-Muslim world, particularly Saudi Arabia, and New York "because, after this horrendous crime ... some of the bridges had been broken. I thought I could play a role."

"I am a Muslim, an Arab, a Saudi and a nationalist," he said. "I am interested in my nation’s causes and I condemn terrorism. I love America, and the American is my friend — but the Palestinian is my brother," he added.

Alwaleed said he was holding Palestinian citizenship granted by President Yasser Arafat. "I have a Palestinian passport and I am proud of this," he told Al-Watan daily.

A statement released by the prince’s Kingdom Holding group in Riyadh on Thursday, after he accompanied Giuliani on an eight-hour visit to the rubble of the World Trade Center, quoted him as condemning terrorism but also urging the United States to rethink its policies in the Middle East.

"At times like these, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack," which left more than 5,100 people dead or missing, he said.

"I believe the government of the United States should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause," the prince said. "Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis as the world (looks the other way)."

In an interview with CNN Thursday, Prince Alwaleed again called on the United States to reconsider its "blind" support for Israel if it is to win the war against terrorism.

The prince’s remarks angered Giuliani, who described them as "highly irresponsible" and "dangerous." Giuliani said he rejected the money because the statement issued by the prince after they met referred to Israelis as slaughterers.

"It seems to me that what he was trying to do was to link this dreadful, awful terrorist attack on the World Trade Center to his view of what was going on in the Middle East," Giuliani said, adding that he did not agree with Alwaleed’s view of the situation in the Middle East.

But Prince Alwaleed said he had not linked the two. "I think the mayor misunderstood the mission that we tried to establish," said Prince Alwaleed, in an interview with CNN television. "I have always respected Mr. Giuliani — before the incident, during the incident, and even now. I admire him. I admire him for what he did."

In his interview with Okaz, Prince Alwaleed insisted that he would not back down on his statement on the Palestinian issue. "My stand goes in line with the stand of my country and government, as well as the stand of every Arab and Muslim," he said.

"We are against terrorism. At the same time we are with the Palestinians and their cause. We will not accept labeling Palestinians as terrorists."

"But I also underscored to New York media that terrorism must be totally rooted out," the prince added.

The prince dismissed suggestions that the uproar created Giuliani’s rejection of his donation would affect his huge investments in the US. "That’s impossible because I did not say anything wrong," said the prince, who has amassed a personal fortune of $20.3 billion and is ranked as the world’s sixth wealthiest entrepreneur by the US magazine Forbes.

"I understand that freedom of speech is something paramount in America," he said.

The prince’s investment in the United States is valued at $12 billion.

The statement issued by the prince’s firm noted that the Saudi tycoon, who did postgraduate studies at Syracuse University, has "a special affinity to New York," with "numerous investment ventures in the Big Apple."

The New York ventures in which he has stakes include Citigroup, AOL Time Warner, News Corp, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Source: Arab News



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