Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Israelis have a right to their own homeland – a declaration that no Arab leader has ever acknowledged, according to a report.
“I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” the prince told The Atlantic.
“But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations,” he added.
Saudi Arabia — the birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines — does not recognize the Jewish state.
It has maintained for years that normalizing relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in 1967’s Six-Day War, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.
“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 bin Salman, who is touring the US to seek investments and support for his efforts to contain Iranian influence.
Mounting tensions between Tehran and Riyadh have sparked speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together against what they see as a common Iranian threat.
“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 added.
Bin Salman also said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei “makes Hitler look good.”
“Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. This is bad,” he said.
When The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg asked if he thinks Saudi Arabia has a problem with anti-Semitism, the prince said, “Our country doesn’t have problems with Jews.”
“Our Prophet Muhammad married a Jewish woman. Not just a friend — he married her,” he said.
“Our prophet, his neighbors were Jewish. You will find a lot of Jews in Saudi Arabia coming from America, coming from Europe. There are no problems between Christian and Muslims and Jews. We have problems like you would find anywhere in the world, among some people. But the normal sort of problems.”
Last month, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel – a move that an Israeli official hailed as historic following two years of efforts.
In November, an Israeli politician disclosed covert contacts with Saudi Arabia, a rare acknowledgment of long-rumored secret dealings that Riyadh still denies, Reuters reported.
Saudi Arabia condemned President Trump’s recent move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but Arab officials have told Reuters that Riyadh appears to support a broader US strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.