Fabricated quotes attributed to Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal on Israel-Palestine go viral
An article from an obscure website falsely claiming that Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal had said that he would side with the Israelis against the Palestinians, went viral on social media before the prince released a statement on Thursday roundly denying the story.
The website, awdnews.com, citing the Arabic language Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas, quoted Bin Talal as saying, "I will side with the Jewish nation and its democratic aspirations in case of outbreak of a Palestinian Intifada (uprising) and I shall exert all my influence to break any ominous Arab initiatives set to condemn Tel Aviv, because I deem the Arab-Israeli entente and future friendship necessary to impede the Iranian dangerous encroachment."
When searching Al Qabas newspaper on Wednesday evening, however, no such interview or quotes could be found.
The story, nevertheless, was reported in a number of news outlets, all citing the non-existing Al Qabas article.
AWD news also claimed that Bin Talal told the official Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA), "Saudi Arabia and Israel must bolster their relations and form a united front to stymie Tehran's ambitious agenda."
Again, no such quotes could be found on either the Arabic or English language versions of the Kuwaiti news agency late Wednesday.
Ironically, Arab media outlets have translated parts of the fake quotes from English instead of searching for the original which is supposed to be in Arabic.
Iranian and Israeli outlets have also jumped on the bandwagon, as well as prominent British left-leaning politicians.
Jamal Khashoggi, an informed Saudi columnist and General Manager of Alarab satellite TV, which is owned by Bin Talal, told Middle East Eye that the quotes attributed to Bin Talal are "all fabricated".
"A statement is being prepared on the subject," he told MEE on Thursday, adding that there is "an active mechanism of manufacturing lies and rumours (on Saudi Arabia)".
It's not the first time claims of warmth of ties exist between the Saudi prince and Israel have been reported.
In July, it was also widely reported that Bin Talal would be visiting Israel, prompting the Saudi prince to deny the rumours.
"In response to the news of the visit to Israel: I have not and will not visit Jerusalem or pray inside it until its liberation from the Zionist enemy. And I carry an honory Palestinian passport," he tweeted.
Unease in Riyadh and Tel Aviv over the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers has meant that both Saudi Arabia and Israel might appear to have a common interest in opposing Iran.
However, more generally and partly owing to the rise of online media outlets and sources, there has been an observable increase in inaccurate stories from and on the Middle East as pundits seek to settle political scores inside the region or beyond.