Arafat wanted in on Camp David Accords but Hafez Assad threatened him: Prince Bandar

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Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat wanted to sign the Camp David Accords but Syria’s Hafez al-Assad had threatened to assassinate him, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan recounts during an exclusive sit-down interview with Al Arabiya.

“After the Oslo Accord, I asked Abu Ammar, God rest his soul - and as they say remember the virtues of your dead - what he thought of the autonomy provisions in the Camp David Accords,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the US recalled.

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“He said, ‘Bandar, Camp David’s autonomy provisions were ten times better than the Oslo Accord. I said, ‘Well, Mr. President, why did you not agree to it?’ He said, ‘I wanted to, but Hafez al-Assad threatened to kill me and to drive a wedge among the Palestinians, turning them against me,’” Prince Bandar bin Sultan said quoting Arafat.

Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat agreed in 1978 on a framework for regional peace that calls for an Israeli withdrawal in stages from Egypt’s Sinai and a transitional Palestinian government in the West Bank and Gaza in what came to be known as the Camp David Accords.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told Al Arabiya he wondered how history would have been written otherwise had Arafat signed the Camp David Accords at the time.

“I thought to myself, so he could have been one martyr and given his life to save millions of Palestinians, but it was as God willed it,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar bin Sultan calls out Palestinian leaders over peace deal

Full transcript: Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s interview on Israel-Palestine conflict

Prince Bandar’s statements came during the first part of a three-episode exclusive interview with Al Arabiya in which he discusses Saudi Arabia's position on the Palestinian cause, calling out the Palestinian leadership for its historical and ongoing “failures,” including its criticism of Gulf states following the UAE-Israel peace deal.

Prince Bandar is Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the US and served as director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014 and the head of the National Security Council from 2005 to 2015.

Read the full transcript of the interview here.

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