Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said in an interview on Monday that Israelis are entitled to live peacefully in their own land—a remarkable statement from one of the kingdom’s most powerful men.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he believes the Jewish people have a right to their own country in at least part of their ancestral homeland, 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 stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”
The crown prince, who has gained considerable influence since the ascension of his father, King Salman, to the throne in 2015 and is also heir apparent to the throne, is currently in the United States to grow business ties, as well as seeking support for efforts to halt Iranian influence in the Middle East.
“We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy [Al-Aqsa] 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.”
At the same time, Saudi Arabia has also been concerned with the growing threat from Iran. The crown prince told interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the “new Hitler.”
“Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe,” said bin Salman. “This is bad, but the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world. He believes he owns the world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East.
“In the 1920s and 1930s, no one saw Hitler as a danger. Only a few people. Until it happened,” he continued. “We don’t want to see what happened in Europe happen in the Middle East. We want to stop this through political, economic and intelligence moves. We want to avoid war.”
The increase in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran has led many to speculate that the kingdom’s shared interests with Israel in thwarting Iranian aggression would push the two countries closer together.
For years, it has been rumored that both countries have had clandestine cooperation, especially between intelligence services. More recently, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time for a commercial airliner to fly over it to 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,” he said, “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.”