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Saudi king reiterates Palestine support after crown prince’s Israel comments

Saudi king reiterates Palestine support after crown prince’s Israel comments

Mohammed bin Salman told US magazine The Atlantic that the Israelis had the right to their own land

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has reiterated the county’s support for Palestine in a phone call with US President Donald Trump after the heir to the throne issued comments appearing to acknowledge Israel’s right to a nation-state.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told US magazine The Atlantic that he believed “the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land” adding a peace deal was necessary for stability and normal relations.

His comments were picked up by the global media as a public sign of growing ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which share a common enemy in Iran.

Read: Saudi crown prince says Israelis have right to their own land

The kingdom still does not officially recognise Israel and has stated for decades that normalising relations depends on Israel’s withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war, which Palestine wants to use for its own state.

However, there have been signs of thawing relations including a March decision to allow Air India permission to fly over its territory on its new routes to and from Tel Aviv.

Read: Saudi gives Air India overflight rights for Israel routes

“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,” the crown prince said.

King Salman’s call with Trump covered Mohammed bin Salman’s current tour of the US, during which he met the American President at the White House.

Read: Saudi crown prince visits Branson’s Virgin Galactic, introduced to hyperloop

The two also reviewed “recent developments in Palestine”, according to Saudi Press Agency, although there was no direct mention of the crown prince’s Israel comments.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques [King Salman} emphasised the necessity of moving the peace process track in the Middle East within the framework of international efforts, assuring the kingdom’s firm positions on the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as its capital,” the news agency said.

In later comments, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his appreciation to the Saudi king “for his steadfast positions in support of the Palestinian people and the cause of Jerusalem and its holy sites” during the call with Trump.

Other topics of the king’s conversation with Trump included the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and the US accuse Iran of supporting Houthi rebels, international efforts to fight ISIL (Daesh) and the Syrian crisis.

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