Saudi crown prince says Israelis are entitled to their land

By Middle East Affairs

In an interview published Monday in The Atlantic, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said Israelis should be able to live peacefully on their own land, signaling the strengthening relationship between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

It also points to a major shift in Saudi Arabian and Israeli relations, as the Gulf state, which is the birthplace of Islam, has never recognized Israel and pushed for it to withdraw from the Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Still, Mohammed bin Salman’s quote in the American magazine points to support for a two-state solution.

“I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”

“We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people,” said Prince Mohammed.

Many speculate that Saudi Arabia’s warming relationship with Israel has more to do with a shared foe — Iran.

“There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” he said in the interview.

In a historic move last month, Saudi Arabia allowed a commercial flight to cross over its territory into Israel. The flight was from India.

And although Saudi Arabia condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Reuters reported at the time that Riyadh seemed supportive of the “broader U.S. strategy” for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which is still in development.

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