Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince is named prime minister

The crown prince, who already wields wide powers and is seen as the kingdom’s day-to-day leader, had reportedly called Israel a “potential ally”.

By Associated Press and World Israel News

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was appointed prime minister on Tuesday by royal decree.

The crown prince, who is heir to the throne held by King Salman, already wields wide powers and is seen as the kingdom’s day-to-day leader.

The royal decree appointing him as prime minister was carried by the Saudi Press Agency. It said King Salman will continue to chair the Cabinet meetings that he attends.

The 37-year-old crown prince, widely known by the acronym MBS, has taken the lead on Vision 2030, the kingdom’s wide-ranging plan to transform its economy and end its dependency on oil.

In an interview in March, MBS said Israel could be a “potential ally” of Riyadh, according to a report at the time by the Saudi Press Agency.

“For us, we hope that the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is solved,” the prince reportedly said. “We don’t look at Israel as an enemy, we look to them as a potential ally, with many interests that we can pursue together,” adding that there are issues that must first be resolved.

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Rumors circulated in 2017 that he had made a secret visit to Israel.

MBS is associated with the October 2018 killing of Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence found that the crown prince likely approved the killing.

The prince said in 2019 that he took “full responsibility” for the killing since it happened on his watch, but denied ordering it.