NEW YORK – Saudi Arabia on Wednesday ruled out use of oil as a weapon by Arab states to secure an end to the 12-day Israeli military onslaught in the Gaza Strip.
“Oil is not a weapon. You can’t reverse a conflict by using oil,” Saud Al-Faisal, Foreign Minister, told reporters here on the sidelines of a Security Council debate on the Israeli offensive which has claimed 689 Palestinian lives.
Prince Saud expressed support for a Libyan draft resolution that would demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and said it should be put to a vote in the Security Council later Wednesday or Thursday.
“It is the responsibility of the Security Council to help to end any conflict as soon as it arises. And the current conflict in Gaza should be no exception,” he noted.
“If the Security Council takes no action ... that certainly raises questions about its credibility.”
But the French, US and British foreign chief diplomats are seeking Council approval of a non-binding statement in support for a ceasefire plan unveiled by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“The initiative of President Mubarak does not conflict or contradict the (Libyan) proposal made to the Security Council. As a matter of fact, it complements it,” Prince Saud said.
An Iranian military commander called on Islamic countries to cut oil exports to Israel’s supporters in response to the Jewish state’s offensive in Gaza, Tehran’s official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.
IRNA said the commander described oil as a commodity that could put pressure on Israel’s European and American backers in the “unequal war” faced by Palestinians in the coastal strip.
Iran, which often launches verbal diatribes against the United States and Israel, is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer and a leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Prince Saud said the oil producers would be shooting themselves in the foot by heeding Tehran’s call to cut supplies to Israel’s backers, a move which he said would not help end any such conflict.
“How can you do that? You stop producing oil in order to put pressure on people and you suffer as much as anybody else suffers,” Prince Saud noted.
The oil producers “need their abilities to build their countries from this resource (oil),” Prince Saud said.
“If they are going to make themselves ready to face any actions against them, they need that resource to build their capabilities,” he added.
Asked if Saudi Arabia would contribute to a possible international monitoring force, Prince Saud replied: “If we are asked, we will of course think about it.”
Earlier, Prince Saud reminded the Security Council of the danger posed to the Palestinian people in Gaza.
“At this moment, people are dying, children are orphaned and parents are losing those whom they love. There is no reason for that, except that they exist there. Will you allow that to continue for another hour?” he asked – Agencies