Saudi King supports a Palestinian state

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a 2017 photo. The king on Monday emphasised the need to advance the Israel-Palestine peace process in a phone call with US President Donald Trump.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a 2017 photo. The king on Monday emphasised the need to advance the Israel-Palestine peace process in a phone call with US President Donald Trump.PHOTO: REUTERS

This comes after son says Israelis entitled to live on their own land

RIYADH • King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has reiterated Saudi Arabia's support for a Palestinian state after his son and heir apparent said Israelis were entitled to live peacefully on their own land - a rare statement by an Arab leader.

The king also emphasised the need to advance the peace process in a phone call with United States President Donald Trump on Monday night, made after Israeli security forces killed 16 Palestinians last week during a demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border. The number hit 18 yesterday.

King Salman reaffirmed "the kingdom's steadfast position towards the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital", state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised King Salman, thanking him for his support. "President Abbas expressed his gratitude and appreciation... for his supportive positions of the Palestinian people, the Palestinian cause and the cause of Jerusalem and its sacred sites," said a statement published by the official Palestinian WAFA news agency.

Mr Abbas also praised Saudi Arabia for continuing to support the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The report did not refer to the comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview published on Monday by US magazine The Atlantic, which are the latest public sign that ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel may be growing closer.

Asked if he believes the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland, Prince Mohammed was quoted as saying: "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."

Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines, does not recognise Israel.

It has maintained for years that normalising relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.

But raised tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has fuelled speculation that shared interests may push Riyadh and Tel Aviv to work together against what they see as a common Iranian threat.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2018, with the headline 'Saudi King supports a Palestinian state'. Print Edition | Subscribe