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Date TimeApril 03, 2018
VoiceSaudi Arabia's crown prince has said Israelis have a right to a homeland alongside Palestinians, in a sign the kingdom was open to the possibility of normalising ties.
Saudi crown prince says Israel has right to homeland in sign of normalising ties
Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne, said the Jewish people were entitled to live peacefully on their own land when asked if he believes they have a right to a nation-state.
"I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” he said. “But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."
Saudi Arabia - birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines - does not recognise Israel. It has maintained for years that establishing any diplomatic relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.
Saudi crown prince says Israel has right to homeland in sign of normalising 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,” Prince Mohammed told The Atlantic magazine in an interview following a tour of the US.
If, as expected, the crown prince succeeds his octogenarian father King Salman and ascends to the Saudi throne, he will also become guardian of Islam's holiest shrines.
"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, colloquially referred to as MBS, added.
Saudi Arabia also opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel last month, a hugely symbolic move that was greeted with much cheer in Israel.
Saudi crown prince says Israel has right to homeland in sign of normalising ties
The countries have grown closer under the crown prince, bonding over their mutual distrust of Iran.
King Salman reiterated his son’s sentiments in a phone conversation on Monday night with President Donald Trump.
The king emphasised the need to advance the peace process, made after Israeli security forces killed 16 Palestinians last week during a demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border.
The Trump administration has pinned its hopes on Saudi Arabia as a key interlocutor in the peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
But no such senior Saudi official is known to have previously accepted that Israel has a "right" to any land beyond the practical need to secure a lasting deal.

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