Saudi Crown Prince Calls Israel A ‘Potential Ally’

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Israel a “potential ally” and said he wanted to “resolve the problem” with Iran in a broad interview published on Thursday (3/3).

The 36-year-old de facto leader also called the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a “grave mistake” for which he was unfairly blamed in the case. On the same occasion, he also expressed his fondness for the famous TV series “Game of Thrones.”

“We hope that the conflict between Israel and Palestine can be resolved,” the prince told The Atlanticaccording to a transcript officially released by the Saudi News Agency.

“We don’t see Israel as an enemy. We see them as a potential ally with a lot of common interests… But we have to work things out before we get to that.”

Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but Gulf allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will normalize relations with the Jewish state in 2020.

The normalization accord under the Abrahamic Accords mediated by the United States drew the ire of Palestinians, who condemned it as a “stab in the back.”

At the same time, Saudi relations with Israel’s arch-foe Iran, which has been the target of fury by Gulf states for creating chaos in the region, are showing signs of improvement with several rounds of talks hosted by Iraq.

“They are neighbors. Neighbors forever. We can’t get rid of them, and they can’t get rid of us,” the prince said of Iran.

“So it’s better for both countries to settle down and find a way to coexist,” read the transcript of the prince’s interview with the US monthly magazine.

“Hopefully we can get a good position for both countries while creating a brighter future for this country and Iran,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it will stick to the Arab League’s decades-old position of not establishing formal relations with Israel until the conflict with the Palestinians is resolved.

Prince Mohammed, however, appears to be more open than his father, King Salman regarding attitudes towards Israel. He has allowed Israeli commercial aircraft to pass through Saudi airspace. [mg/jm]