Saudi-Israel alliance possible if Tel Aviv accepts Riyadh’s terms
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia and Israel have the money and political means to forge a powerful alliance provided that they reach peace first, a senior Saudi prince has suggested, criticizing Israeli officials for ignoring Riyadh’s peace initiatives.
In a rare interview with an Israeli television network on Wednesday, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bun Faisal al-Saud said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should accept terms that Saudi Arabia has put forward for a lasting peace.
“With Israeli money and Saudi brains, we can go far,” the prince said, but added, “Yes, if there is peace. Unfortunately.”
“Israel chooses to ignore all the efforts of Saudi Arabia to make peace, and expects Saudi Arabia to put its hand in its [Israel’s] hand and go forward on technology, on water desalination, on issues like that. It’s not going to happen,” the veteran diplomat added.
The prince said the so-called Arab Peace Initiative, first offered by late Saudi King Abdullah in 2002, raised the chances of public and official ties between Arab regimes and Israel.
“Basically it’s a quid pro quo: Israel withdraws from occupied Arab territories, in return for Arab recognition of Israel, end of hostilities and normal relations,” Faisal said, doubting that Riyadh and Tel Aviv could reach an agreement during his lifetime.
The 73-year-old said he had been to Jerusalem al-Quds and would love to visit the city if Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sit down for negotiations after resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“In my lifetime — and there’s very little of it left to come — I don’t think I’m going to see that. Not before the Palestinian issue is resolved. I am looking for an Israeli peace initiative. I haven’t seen one. What is it that Israel thinks will make peace?”
He accused Netanyahu of trying to appeal to voters by claiming that ties with the Arab world could be warmed without resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Turki dismissed as “wishful thinking” what some media reports had claimed about possible division between bin Salman and his father on the issue.
The crown prince “supports the Palestinian cause to the fullest,” he said, adding MbS had no differences with his father “on any issue. He does what the king tells him.” It is no secret that Israel and Saudi Arabia have long been working quietly over security issues and have already established a mutual understanding to respect their regional interests.