Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterates his support for the Saudi regime, which has been under fire globally over the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying criticisms of the murder should not go as far as posing a risk to the kingdom’s stability.
Speaking to foreign journalists on Wednesday, Netanyahu said Khashoggi’s early October assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was “balanced by the importance of Saudi Arabia and the role it plays in the Middle East.”
“What happened in Istanbul is nothing short of horrific. But it’s balanced by the importance of Saudi Arabia and the role it plays in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said. “Because if Saudi Arabia would be destabilized, the world, not the Middle East, will be destabilized.”
Khashoggi’s murder is blamed on the highest ranks of officials in Saudi Arabia. According to a CIA assessment, the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination.
Netanyahu’s comments are similar to those of US President Donald Trump, who has said he will stand by bin Salman despite the CIA’s findings and pleas from Senate for him to condemn Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
The Washington Post says the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Last month, the US president said Washington intended to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure interests of the United States, Israel and regional partners, implying that the occupying regime in Tel Aviv depends on Riyadh’s support for survival.
He stressed that the stability of Saudi Arabia benefits Tel Aviv, saying “Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia.”
“So what does that mean, Israel is going to leave? You want Israel to leave? We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia,” Trump said.
Trump has said the CIA findings on the Saudi crown prince were not conclusive.
The US administration, which sees the kingdom as an important ally, has indicated that it will defy calls for sanctions against the crown prince.
The Israeli premier had asked top US officials recently not to abandon their support for bin Salman over the killing of Khashoggi, according to multiple reports.
According to The Washington Post, Netanyahu has specifically told the White House that the crown prince is a key strategic partner and a linchpin of the US-Israeli front against Iran’s regional influence.
Saudi Arabia does not officially recognize Israel and has no formal ties with the regime. However, the two sides have been widely reported to have cooperated secretly for years.
The warming of Riyadh-Tel Aviv relations has gathered pace since June 2017, when bin Salman became the crown prince and the kingdom’s de facto leader. Middle East experts say Riyadh has gone too far in its cooperation with Tel Aviv as a way of deterring Tehran as a regional rival.