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Saudi King Salman reaffirms support for Palestinian state in call to Trump

King Salman's comments come one day after his son said Israel has right to its homeland
Saudi King Salman emphasised need to advance the Middle East peace process in phone call to Trump (AFP)

Saudi King Salman reaffirmed support for Palestinians to US President Donald Trump, state media said on Tuesday, after his son and heir apparent said Israel has a "right" to a homeland.

The king "reaffirmed the kingdom's steadfast position towards the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

In a phone call with Trump, the king also emphasised the need to advance the Middle East peace process, a week after Israeli forces killed 17 Palestinians during a demonstration on its border with Gaza. 

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations, but behind the scenes, their ties appear to have improved in recent years against what they see as a common Iranian threat.

Saudi crown prince: Israelis have the right to a homeland
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Israel's conflict with the Palestinians has long proved an obstacle to a full rapprochement, however, as Riyadh still supports the Palestinian claim to sovereignty.

The crown prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia said Israel has a "right" to a homeland, a notable shift in the kingdom's position, as outlined in an interview with The Atlantic's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, on Monday.

"I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation," said the prince, who is on a three-week US tour.  

"I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land," he added.

"But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."

Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has been the main sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative, which envisions a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No senior Saudi official is known to have previously accepted that Israel has a right to any land beyond the practical need to secure a lasting deal.

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