An interview between The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, published yesterday, contains several firsts – not the least of which is the first public acknowledgment by an Arab leader that “the Jewish people [have a right] to have a nation-state of their own next to a Palestinian state.”
According to Goldberg, bin Salman “did not have a bad word to say” about Israel, his known ally, and expressed fair and even-handed opinions about both Israel and Jews.
To the question of whether “the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland,” Bin Salman responded “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”
In terms of future ties with Israel, the interview did not contain explicit references to any official arrangements with Israeli lawmakers. Nonetheless, the public has seen the channels of communication between the two nations widening, as a Saudi general visited Jerusalem in 2016 and Saudi Arabia recently gave permission to Israel to fly over its airspace on flight routes to India.
Did he have “no religious-based objection to the existence of Israel?” The crown prince responded “We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people.”
The Prince was also insistent about the establishment of an agreement between the two sides, “But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations,” he said.
Nor did the crown prince have favorable words for Israel’s biggest enemy – Iran. Significantly, the crown prince’s regard for Iran’s supreme leader was summed up as follows “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. … The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world.”