BEIRUT: Any move to negotiate with Israel would be an “unforgettable error”, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said Israelis were entitled to live peacefully on their own land.
Saudi Arabia – birthplace of Islam and site of its holiest shrines – does not officially recognise Israel, but Mohammed bin Salman’s comments, quoted in the US magazine The Atlantic, are a further sign of an apparent thawing in bilateral ties.
They come as Tehran and Riyadh back opposing sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as rival political groups in Iraq and Lebanon.
“Moving towards negotiations with the deceptive, lying, & usurper regime [Israel] is an unforgettable error that will impede the victory of the Palestinian nation. The act of betrayal by some Arab heads of states— which is gradually being revealed— pursues the same goal,” Khamenei said in a statement posted on his official website.
The statement, which did not explicitly name Saudi Arabia, said it was the duty of all Muslims to support Palestinian resistance movements and it pledged continued Iranian backing for the Palestinian group Hamas.
After the crown prince’s comments, his father King Salman reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for a Palestinian state.
Riyadh has long maintained that normalising ties with Israel hinges on an Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war – territory Palestinians seek for a future state.