The recently completed UN Interfaith conference is more significant than the coverage it received in the US media. Not because of anything to do with religion, but for its implications on the the Arab-Israeli peace process: Never before has the King of Saudi Arabia sat in the same room with Israeli political leaders (Shimon Peres, Tipvi Livni) so this is a major adjustment for the Kingdom and a huge political achievement for Israel.
Fahmy Huwedi and Tariq Al-Bashri, top Egyptian commentators, have scathing columns in today’s Al-Dostor, criticizing the King for refusing to bring up violence in Gaza while handing the Israelis a major PR victory. Bashri goes as far to say that the King sitting in the same room as Peres is no less significant as Sadat visiting Jerusalem in 1977. However, he then goes on to undermine the credibility of his argument by saying that the US and Israel are behind attempts to instigate Sunni-Shia conflict in order to create a new enemy or distraction for the Arabs, so that they no longer focus on Israel. He compares this to how the US allegedly instigated conflict between Libya and Egypt following the Camp David treaty, creating a “new enemy” for the Egyptians other than Israel. How can the US can be blamed for instigating Sunni-Shia strife when the top Sunni scholars, such as Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, have been the most vocal in their anti-Shia rhetoric.
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