THE SAUDI SPRING – I haven’t blogged much about Saudi Arabia’s next king, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, because I don’t want to get too excited just yet. The proof will be in the pudding (or whatever the Saudi equivalent of a pudding is), once bin Salman ascends the throne and has the power to act on all his current thought bubbles. But it has certainly been encouraging to see something new pop up every few days, indicating a much different and more liberal attitude and outlook than we are used to from that part of the world. This is today’s:
The crown prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia said Israel has a “right” to a homeland, a notable shift in the kingdom’s position published Monday.
Saudi Arabia and Israel still have no formal diplomatic relations, but behind the scenes, improvements in their ties have accelerated in recent years…
The prince was asked by Jeffrey Goldberg [of “The Atlantic”] whether the “Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?”
“I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation,” said the prince, who is on a three-week US tour.
“I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” he added…
Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has been the main sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative, which envisions a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But no such senior Saudi official is known to have previously accepted that Israel has a “right” to any land beyond the practical need to secure a lasting deal.
As I said, too early to get excited yet, but a right noise nonetheless.