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April 3, 2018 10:21 am

Saudi King Reiterates Support for Palestinians After Son’s Israel Comments

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

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Saudi King Salman. Photo: Reuters / Yuri Kadobnov / Pool.

King Salman 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 emphasized the need to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a phone call with US President Donald Trump on Monday.

King Salman reaffirmed “the kingdom’s steadfast position toward 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.

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.

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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 recognize Israel. It has maintained for years that normalizing relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War that Palestinians seek for a future state.

Increased tension between Riyadh and Tehran has fueled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together against what they see as a common Iranian threat.

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