Dubai: Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal has criticised US President Donald Trump’s recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in one of the sharpest reactions emanating from the US-allied kingdom.
In a letter to Trump published in a Saudi newspaper on Monday, Prince Turki, a former ambassador to Washington who now holds no government office but remains influential, called the move a domestic political ploy that would stoke violence.
“Bloodshed and mayhem will definitely follow your opportunistic attempt to make electoral gain,” Prince Turki wrote in a letter published in the Saudi newspaper Al Jazeera.
“Your action has emboldened the most extreme elements in the Israeli society ... because they take your action as a licence to evict the Palestinians from their lands and subject them to an apartheid state,” Prince Turki wrote.
“Your action has equally emboldened Iran and its terrorist minions to claim that they are the legitimate defenders of Palestinian rights,” he added.
Saudi Arabia has sought better ties with Washington under Trump than it had under his predecessor, Barack Obama, who alarmed Riyadh by signing a nuclear agreement with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch enemy.
Prince Turki is a son of King Faisal, who was assassinated in 1975. His brother, Saud Al Faisal, served as foreign minister for 40 years until 2015.
Prince Saud championed a 2002 Arab peace initiative that called for normalising relations between Arab countries and Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories.
Although most foreign policy in Saudi Arabia is now overseen by Crown Prince Mohammad, a source at the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, which Prince Turki chairs, said he still meets King Salman every week.