Saudi king, Trump discuss Middle East peace process


—Photo by AFP

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has emphasized it is necessary for the international community to move forward the Middle East peace process, Saudi Press Agency reported Tuesday.

The Saudi king made the remarks during a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump over the regional developments on Monday evening, according to the report.

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

The king reaffirmed the kingdom’s steadfast position on the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, it said.

The conversation came amid rising tensions between Israel and the Palestinians following the bloody clashes in the past days near the Israeli border with Gaza Strip, that have left at least 15 Palestinian protesters killed and 1,200 others injured.

The king expressed his appreciation for a recent statement issued by the White House on its strong stance towards the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.

Recently, the Houthi militias have stepped up its attacks on Saudi targets by firing missiles at the kingdom in retaliation for the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen.

The Saudi leader pledged to make efforts to find a political solution to the Yemeni crisis and provide humanitarian aid to its people.

At the same time, the two leaders underlined the importance of the achievements of the concerted international efforts to fight terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said Israelis are entitled to live peacefully on their own land in an interview published on Monday in US magazine The Atlantic, another public sign of ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv appearing to grow closer.

Asked if he believes the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland, Mohammed bin Salman 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 normalizing relations hinges on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war, territory Palestinians seek for a future state.

“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,” said Prince Mohammed who is touring the United States to drum up investments and support for his efforts to contain Iranian influence.

“There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries”, Prince Mohammed added.—Reuters