Saudi crown prince: 'Palestinians must accept peace with Israel or shut up'
Palestinians should accept a peace deal with Israel or "shut up", Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince reportedly said to a group of American Jews earlier this month, according to Israeli media.
Leaving an audience of Jewish leaders at a meeting in New York stunned by his harsh criticism, Mohammad bin Salman scolded the Palestinian leadership for what he described as a decades-long history of "rejecting peace with Israel", adding they should either begin to accept peace proposals or "shut up", according to a report on Israel's Channel 10 News.
A leaked Israeli foreign ministry cable sent by a diplomat from the Israeli consulate in New York, along with three other American and Israeli sources say bin Salman's comments, made on March 27 during the closed meetings allegedly caused people to "literally fall off their chairs".
"In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or shut up and stop complaining," the Saudis' defacto leader reportedly said.
Bin Salman also said the Palestinian cause is not a priority for Riyadh's foreign policy, according to the report.
He said rather than focusing on Palestine, Saudi Arabia has to face much wider threats in the region, such as Iran, its ideological rival.
Earlier this month, King Salman scrambled to reject his son's declaration that Saudi Arabia recognises Israel's "right" to exist.
In an interview with a US magazine, bin Salman appeared to put the rival land claims of Palestine and Israel on an equal footing.
"I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land," bin Salman said.
"But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."
The remarks from MbS, as the 32-year-old prince is known, were published just three days after Israeli forces killed 16 Palestinians in one day during a peaceful demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border.
Since then, Israel has killed more than 40 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza as the Great Return March protests continue.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations, but in the past two years, a series of reports of covert meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials give an impression of a rapprochement between the two states.
The Saudi Arabian public and media have previously been heavily critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Recently a number of media outlets have begun painting Israel in a reasonable light while demonising Iran. With an intense crackdown on freedom of expression in the country, it is difficult to gauge how well this turn has been taken in by citizens of the country.
Any open alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel would signal Riyadh's abandonment of the Palestinian cause, observers have said.
Click here to view an updated list of the Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza since Friday March 30.