International

‘Israelis have the right to their own land’

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.   | Photo Credit: Luke MacGregor

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land in an interview published on Monday in The Atlantic, another public sign of ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv appearing to grow closer.

Asked if he believes the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland, he was quoted as saying: “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.”

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel. It has maintained for years that normalising relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 war, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.

Closer ties?

“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 who is touring the U.S.

Increased tension between Tehran and Riyadh has fuelled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together.

“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”, Prince Mohammed added.

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel last month, which an Israeli official hailed as historic. In November, an Israeli Cabinet member disclosed covert contacts with Saudi Arabia, a rare acknowledgement of long-rumoured secret dealings which Riyadh still denies.

Saudi Arabia condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, but Arab officials told Reuters at the time that Riyadh appears to be on board with a broader U.S. strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 5:02:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/israelis-have-the-right-to-their-own-land/article23427625.ece

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