- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 8, 2002

A top adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah admitted yesterday that Saudi Arabia provides money to families of Palestinian suicide bombers but said the payments do not encourage violence.

"We have given hundreds of millions of dollars to assist Palestinians," said Adel Jubeir, a foreign policy adviser to the Saudi crown prince.

"We do not target suicide bombers; our assistance goes to everyone, to many families that lost breadwinners" in the uprising against Israel.

"We do not promise assistance to the families of suicide bombers. Support will go to every family in need. We do not ask where they come from," Mr. Jubeir told reporters at the Saudi Embassy.

He accused Israel of making public the lists of Saudi contributions to the families, including those of suicide bombers, to "deflect" attention from its refusal to withdraw from Palestinian territory and accept a Saudi peace plan.

Israeli officials distributed the lists of Saudi contributions Monday, the day before the White House meeting between President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Jubeir also rejected Israeli charges that the Saudis encourage terrorism by promising that the families of suicide bombers will receive payments of $5,000, which equals several years' income in the West Bank.

Israeli intelligence Col. Mirim Eisin told reporters Monday that Saudi documents found in mosques in the West Bank last month had the names of suicide bombers marked in yellow to distinguish them from others killed in the uprising.

Mr. Jubeir also denied Israeli accusations that Saudi money went directly to Hamas a group that has claimed credit for many suicide bombings and that the State Department lists as a terrorist organization.

"If you ask if some [Saudi] money went to areas of Gaza where Hamas is strong, the answer is 'yes,'" Mr. Jubeir said. "But did it go to Hamas directly? No."

Saudi Arabia recently emerged from its traditional low profile in foreign affairs to back a peace plan and urge the Bush administration to intervene in a new attempt to end the Palestinian-Israeli violence, which began in September 2000.

Mr. Jubeir dismissed reports that Saudi Arabia would pressure Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to condemn terrorism.

"I believe President Arafat has condemned terrorism and suicide bombing," Mr. Jubeir said. "What we are waiting for is a statement by Israel that they will freeze settlements."

The Saudi official was also cool to reports that the Saudis might pressure Mr. Arafat to reform the Palestinian Authority, curb corruption, and bring about greater transparency and democracy.

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