Thu 21 Sep 2023 9:51 am - Jerusalem Time
Saudi Crown Prince to Fox News : We are getting closer every day to normalization with Israel.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced on Wednesday that his country is "close" to normalizing its relations with Israel, warning on the other hand that if Iran possesses nuclear weapons, the Kingdom will do so as well.
The Saudi Crown Prince said in an interview with the American Fox News network in Saudi Arabia, “We are getting closer and closer every day” to normalizing relations with Israel.
This statement came at a time when US President Joe Biden was discussing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York specifically the issue of relations between the Kingdom and the Hebrew state.
But Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, stressed “the importance of the Palestinian issue” for the kingdom.
He said, "For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We have to solve it."
Prince Mohammed bin Salman denied the validity of press reports that spoke of the “suspension” of talks between the Kingdom and Israel.
He said that "these negotiations are going well so far" and "we hope that they will lead to a result that makes life easier for the Palestinians and allows Israel to play a role in the Middle East."
Experts are likely that the United States will provide Saudi Arabia with security guarantees if the oil kingdom concludes an agreement with Israel.
In response to a question about this issue, the Crown Prince said that relations between Riyadh and Washington go back eight decades and that a possible security agreement between the two countries would “strengthen” their military and economic cooperation, without further details.
To date, the Hebrew state has normalized its relations with five Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.
However, what the Saudi prince said did not bring peace or relief to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who warned that any normalization with Israel constitutes a “stab in the back” for the Palestinians.
During a press conference held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings, Raisi was asked about the rapprochement taking place between the Kingdom and the Hebrew state. He began his answer by welcoming the recent rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh, stressing that Iran’s relationship “with Saudi Arabia is developing.”
Last spring, the two competing regional powers, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, began normalizing relations between them, in a surprising step that took place under the auspices of China.
In response to a question about the current Saudi-Israeli rapprochement, the Iranian president said, “We have not heard anything like this.”
He added, "Despite that, starting a relationship between the Zionist regime and any country in the region, if its goal is to achieve security for the Zionist regime, will certainly not achieve that."
Raisi continued, "We believe that a relationship between countries in the region and the Zionist entity would be a stab in the back for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance."
In his interview with the American news network, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was asked about the possibility of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
In response to this question, the Saudi Crown Prince warned that if the Islamic Republic acquired atomic weapons, the Kingdom would find itself forced to do the same.
"We are concerned about the possibility of a country obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is bad," he said.
He added that the Iranians "do not need to obtain a nuclear weapon because they cannot use it," stressing that such a thing would mean "igniting a war with the rest of the world."
But the Crown Prince stressed, in return, that “if they get this weapon, we should get it too.”
Iran denies that it is seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon, even though its stock of enriched uranium exceeds the levels permitted under the nuclear agreement it concluded in 2015 during the era of former US President Barack Obama, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew.
During his meeting with Netanyahu, the American President also discussed the relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Addressing Biden, Netanyahu said, “I believe that under your leadership we can conclude a historic peace agreement between Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
In turn, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told ABC that achieving rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel will have a profound impact in the Middle East.
He added that normalizing relations between these two countries will have a "strong impact on the stability of the region, on the integration of the region, and on bringing people together."