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Saudi crown prince: Israel normalization ‘getting closer every day’

Mohammed bin Salman dismissed reports Riyadh suspended U.S.-led normalization talks.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in an interview that aired on Wednesday shot down reports that U.S.-led talks over normalization with Israel had been suspended.

In an hour-long interview with Fox News‘ chief political correspondent Bret Baier—MBS’s first ever interview completely in English and the first with a major American network since 2019—the crown prince said that peace with the Jewish state was “getting closer every day.”

Asked what it would take for Riyadh to join the Abraham Accords, MBS emphasized that it would happen “with the support from President Biden’s administration to get to that point.”

MBS continued, “For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part. We have good negotiations. It continues to now. We will see where it will go. We hope that it will reach a place that it will ease the life of the Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East.”

Baier then asked about recent media reports that Riyadh had frozen normalization talks.

“Not true,” the crown prince said.

MBS was also asked if he is concerned about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“We are concerned with any country getting a nuclear weapon. That’s a bad move. You don’t need to get a nuclear weapon because you can’t use it,” he said.

“Even if Iran gets a nuclear weapon—any country that uses a nuclear weapon that means that they are having a war with the rest of the world. The world cannot see another Hiroshima. If the world sees 100,000 people dead, that means you are in a war with the rest of the world,” he added.

He was then asked if Saudi Arabia would pursue nuclear weapons should Iran get them.

“If they get one, we have to get one,” MBS replied.

The interview aired the same day U.S. President Joe Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, with Netanyahu urging Biden to help bring together the Jewish state and the Gulf’s most influential Arab monarchy.

“I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” said Netanyahu.

“And I think such a peace would go a long way first to advance the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, achieve reconciliation between the Islamic world and the Jewish state, and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Netanyahu instructed his country’s leading nuclear and security specialists to work with U.S. negotiators to find a compromise that lets Saudi Arabia enrich uranium.

Israeli officials are “quietly working” with the White House to develop a “U.S.-run, uranium-enrichment operation” in Saudi Arabia for a civilian nuclear program, a key condition of the kingdom for accepting a normalization agreement with Israel, officials from both countries told the Journal.

The two leaders, in their first face-to-face meeting since Netanyahu returned to office at the end of last year, also discussed the Iranian threat.

“I appreciate, Mr. President, your continuous commitment to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear-weapons capability. I think that’s critical,” said Netanyahu.

“And that shared goal of ours can be achieved by a credible military threat, crippling sanctions and supporting the brave men and women of Iran who despise that regime, and who are our real partners for a better future,” he continued.

The Israeli prime minister added: “I look forward to working with you and your team to realize the promise and confront the threat.”

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