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Saudi Prince To Israeli TV: Netanyahu Deceiving Public About Chances For Mideast Peace

In an unprecedented interview with Israeli television, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to the United States accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of deceiving his public by claiming that ties between the Jewish state and Arab world can be normalized in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud told Channel 13 that, “Mr. Netanyahu would like us to have a relationship and then we can fix the Palestinian issue…[but] from the Saudi point of view it’s the other way around.” The Saudi insider, who was not speaking in an official capacity, attributed the Israeli premier’s rhetoric to electoral considerations in advance of the upcoming April 9 national vote, adding that the average Saudi citizen maintains “a very negative view of Mr. Netanyahu because of what is happening on the ground [vis-à-vis the Palestinians]” and since the prime minister has a “hubristic attitude [of] praising himself.” The interview dovetails with recent reports that Saudi King Salman recently took back control of the Palestinian portfolio from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman due to the impression his son and heir to the throne was being too amenable to the White House’s reported attempt to redefine manners in which to address and resolve core issues of the conflict. The interview was aired a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Riyadh with King Salman, who reiterated support for the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital. As for Prince Faisal al Saud, he concluded by saying that, “with Israeli money and Saudi brains, we can go far.… Unfortunately, Israel chooses to ignore all the efforts of Saudi Arabia to make peace and expects to…go forward on technology, on water desalination, on issues like that. It’s not going to happen.”