In a rare interview with Fox News, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized that the Palestinian issue remains a “very important” part of US-brokered talks involving Israel. This statement comes amid reports of negotiations aimed at establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As part of the negotiation process, Israeli and US officials are reportedly working on a plan that could see Riyadh openly enriching uranium. Enriched uranium has applications in nuclear reactor fuel and weapons.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s office has not publicly responded to reports of uranium enrichment discussions. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden recently discussed the possibility of Israel and Saudi Arabia establishing diplomatic relations, expressing optimism about the prospects of such an agreement.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, suggested that a framework deal could be in place by early next year, with the goal of achieving ratification in the US Congress. Many members of Congress, especially within the Democratic Party, have raised concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Saudi Arabia has historically refrained from recognizing Israel, aligning itself with Palestinian solidarity. Still, the US has been working since late last year to build on the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the Trump administration and led to bilateral normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain in 2020.
In exchange for normalizing ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking major military support from the US, cooperation in establishing its own civilian nuclear program, and significant Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. However, securing Israeli concessions could be challenging given the nature of the current Israeli government.
During his Fox News interview, Crown Prince Mohammed emphasized the importance of addressing the Palestinian issue and the ongoing negotiations to solve it.
Earlier this month, Palestinian Authority leaders met with Saudi officials in Riyadh to discuss their demands for a potential agreement involving the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. These demands reportedly include significant financial support and increased control of land in the occupied West Bank.
Regarding working with the current Israeli government, Prince Mohammed stated, “If we have a breakthrough, reaching a deal that gives the Palestinians their needs and [makes] the region calm, we’ve got to work with whoever’s there.”
However, many members of Israel’s current coalition government are staunchly opposed to the internationally endorsed two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The possibility of Saudi Arabia pursuing uranium enrichment has raised concerns among some Israeli politicians, with one Likud member of parliament calling it “dangerous madness.” According to reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu encouraged Israeli experts to cooperate with American negotiators on a proposal for a “US-run uranium enrichment operation” in Saudi Arabia, which has yet to be finalized and approved by President Biden.
In the interview, Prince Mohammed also expressed concerns about Iran potentially obtaining a nuclear weapon, stating that any country obtaining such a weapon would be “a bad move” and could lead to a global conflict.