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Saudi Crown Prince on normalisation with Israel: ‘Every day we get closer’

September 21, 2023 at 1:44 pm

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman in New Delhi on September 9, 2023 [EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed Bin Salman, denied reports that he has suspended normalisation talks with Israel, confirming that they are getting closer every day to achieving normalisation.

The statements were made in video excerpts from an English-language interview by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with the American Fox News channel, which was broadcast by the Saudi Al-Ikhbariya channel, translated into Arabic. The entire interview was aired at a later time.

In response to the interviewer’s question “what would it take for you to agree to normalise relations with Israel?” the Saudi Crown Prince replied, “There is an approach from President Biden’s administration to get to that point.”

He added,

For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part, and we have good negotiations continuing till now, we will see where it will go. We hope that will reach a place that will ease the life of the Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East

In response to a remark by the interview that there are reports that he had suspended talks, Bin Salman replied, “That is not true.”

The interviewer continued, asking: “So do you think, if you were to characterise it, are you close?” to which the Saudi Crown Prince replied: “Every day we get closer,” without further details.

In recent months, there has been increased talk by Israeli officials about the imminent normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia, but Riyadh has confirmed on more than one occasion that normalisation will not occur until a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reached.

In another context, in response to the interviewer’s question about Tehran, which read, “Are you concerned about Iran getting a nuclear weapon?” the Saudi Crown Prince said, “We are concerned about any country getting a nuclear weapon. That’s a bad move. You do not need to get a nuclear weapon because you can’t use it.”

He added, “Any country that uses nuclear weapons means that it is having a war with the rest of world. The world cannot see another Hiroshima.”

“If the world sees 100,000 people dead, that means you are in a war with the rest of the world, so it is a useless effort to reach a nuclear weapon because you cannot use it; if you use it, you’re going to have a big fight with the rest of the world,” added the Crown Prince.

The interviewer then asked, “If they (i.e., Iran) get one (nuclear weapon), will you?” to which the Crown Prince replied, “If they get one, we have to get one.”

It is worth noting that Saudi-Iranian relations have returned to normal in recent months through Chinese mediation of an agreement between the two countries last March, following severed ties lasting years.

READ: Iran: normalisation between Saudi Arabia and Israel is ‘betrayal’ of Palestinians, says Raisi