Saudi Arabia getting 'closer' to Israel normalization, says crown prince

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Wednesday that the Kingdom is moving towards a deal to normalize relations with Israel.

Bin Salman rebuffed reports that the historic process to establish relations between the nations has stalled over Israeli opposition to make concession vis-a-vis the Palestinians, saying "good negotiations" are ongoing.

"We hope that it will reach a place that will ease the life of the Palestinians, and get Israel as a player in the Middle East," he said during an interview with Fox News. "Every day we get closer."

Riyadh has insisted that any deal to establish ties with Israel include a component advancing efforts to establish a Palestinian state, concessions that Israel has so far flatly shot down as its far-right government continues to expand Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In addition to the Palestinian file, Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking additional concession from Washington as part of any potential agreement, including a security pact with the US, sales of advanced weapons and assistance in developing a civilian nuclear program.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals of Iran, and bin Salman said that if Tehran should acquire a nuclear weapon "we have to get one."

Reports have suggested that bin Salman is seeking to avoid legal commitments enshrined in US law, which impose strict limits on nuclear cooperation to ensure it is intended solely for peaceful purposes.

They mandate that such cooperation adhere to nonproliferation criteria to legally bind partners to peaceful nuclear use, including prohibitions on enrichment, and reprocessing of nuclear material without US consent, and adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Israel remains the sole nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East, but has repeatedly declined to confirm the fact publicly as part of a policy of strategic ambiguity.

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