Trump says Israel 'in big trouble' without Saudi Arabia
US President Donald Trump has said that an alliance with Saudi Arabia is crucial to Israeli interests in region while defending the kingdom's powerful crown prince.
Trump made the remarks to reporters on Thursday after a Thanksgiving Day telephone call with members of the military.
"If you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia. So what does that mean? Is Israel going to leave?" he said when asked about a CIA analysis that concluded Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia. We have an ally that said they did not commit at the top level the crown prince, the king, they did not commit this atrocity," Trump said.
He insisted that contrary to reports the CIA has not concluded that Prince Mohammed was behind the October 2 assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Citing vehement denials by the crown prince and king that they were involved, Trump said "maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place."
Critics in the US Congress and high-ranking officials in other countries are accusing Trump of ignoring human rights and giving Saudi Arabia a pass for economic reasons, including its influence on the world oil market.
Trump said this week he would not impose harsher penalties on Prince Mohammed over the death and dismemberment of Khashoggi.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing, according to officials familiar with the assessment.
Israel and some Gulf States - notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - have a shared interest in curbing Iran's influence in the region and cooperate on intelligence gathering.
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, which have no official relations.