Saudi prince criticizes Israel during Bahrain summit amid efforts to normalize ties
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki bin Faisal blasted Israel on Sunday at a Bahrain security summit amid a series of high-profile pacts between the Jewish state and Gulf nations.
In his comments, the prince scoffed at what he said was Israel’s self-promoted image as “peace-loving upholders of high moral principles” while “incarcerat[ing] [Palestinians] in concentration camps under the flimsiest of security accusations — young and old, women and men, who are rotting there without recourse to justice,” according to The Associated Press.
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke remotely after the prince, saying “I would like to express my regret on the comments of the Saudi representative.”
“I don’t believe that they reflect the spirit and the changes taking place in the Middle East,” he added.
Ashkenazi went on to claim Palestinian intransigence was the primary obstacle to a deal. “We have a choice here with the Palestinians whether to solve it or not, or to go to this blame game,” he said.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold also weighed in, accusing the prince of dredging up “accusations of the past — many of which are false.” Prince Turki countered that Gold had “denigrat[ed] the kingdom” in TV appearances, adding “I think Mr. Dore Gold should be the last one to talk about having previous beliefs and positions here,” according to the AP.
Several nations, including Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have recently established formal diplomatic negotiations with Israel in U.S.-brokered deals. For decades, most Arab states have boycotted the country in solidarity with Palestine, but in recent years have moved toward presenting a united front against Iran.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in late November in what would have been the first meeting between the two. Saudi officials have denied any such meeting took place.