Peace deal with Israel 'closer everyday' says Saudi leader

MBS gives rare interview with US broadcaster and discusses Israeli-Saudi peace talks


Momentum appears to be building for an Israeli-Saudi peace deal, as Saudia Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman indicated in a rare US television interview.  

The crown prince, colloquially known as MBS, told US broadcaster Fox News that ongoing negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia could “normalise” the relationship between the two nations, especially with the intervention of the US. Saudia Arabia has been discussing a major deal with the US which would help to normalise an improved relationship with Israel in exchange for US aid in developing a nuclear program.  

MBS has made clear that Saudi cooperation in deals with Israel and the US is contingent on the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, telling Fox News: “For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part.” This part, he said, will be fundamental to the normalisation of his country’s relationship with Israel.  

This interview comes just after President Joe Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since Netanyahu’s return to power last year. Both were in New York for the meeting of the UN general assembly and sat down to discuss Netanyahu’s recent far-right judicial government reforms and the concerning condition of Palestinians in the West Bank. Biden pushed the Israeli PM to adhere to “democratic values” during their brief discussion, and Netanyahu assured Biden: “Under your leadership as president, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” 

During MBS’s interview on Wednesday, he was pressed on the matter of a nuclear arms race, and asked if he was concerned about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. 

“That’s a bad move,” he said. “They don’t need to get nuclear weapon because you cannot use it. Even if Iran get a nuclear weapon, any country use a nuclear weapon that means they are having a war with the rest of the world.” 

Despite this, he said that if Iran were to arm itself with nuclear weapons, Saudia Arabia would do the same.  

The interview with Fox News also covered Saudi investment in the tourism and sports sectors, as the interviewer asked MBS if he was a sports fan. The discussion comes as one of the very few interviews MBS has given to Western media outlets since the crown prince was made a “pariah” over his suspected involvement in the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. 

When asked if normalised relations with Israel were imminent, MBS replied that “Every day we get closer.” 

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