Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has done something unprecedented among Arab leaders: affirm Israel's right to exist.
Salman said the Jewish state had the right to exist in an interview with the Atlantic, and the magazine reports that American peace negotiator Dennis Ross considers this is a first for any Arab leader. While some have recognized Israel’s existence, none have apparently said the Jewish people have a right to a peaceful nation.
"I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation," Salman said. "I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."
Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg then asked whether he had any "religious-based objection" to Israel’s existence, and he said his only concern is the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinians.
"We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people," he said. "This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people."
Goldberg also asked whether Iranian belligerence is the reason the Saudis are strengthening ties with Israel, and Salman said there are many other interests he has in common with Israel.
"Israel is a big economy compared to their size and it’s a growing economy, and of course 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 and countries like Egypt and Jordan," Salman said.