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Israeli minister welcomes Saudi Arabia’s new royal heir

Ayoub Kara says naming of Mohammed Bin Salman as crown prince foretells better Mideast economic cooperation

Minister Ayoub Kara attends a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister Ayoub Kara attends a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, May 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara welcomed on Wednesday Saudi Arabia’s naming of Mohammed Bin Salman as its new crown prince, saying he hoped the change would accelerate the kingdom’s rapprochement with Israel.

“Salman’s appointment means more economic cooperation in the Middle East, and not just regarding oil,” Kara said in a statement. “The strengthening of relations with the Trump administration is the beginning of a new and optimistic time between Saudi Arabia and regional states, including Israel and the Jewish people.”

Saudi King Salman appointed his 31-year-old son as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne. Kara’s remarks were the first response by an Israeli official following the shakeup in the Saudi royal family earlier in the day.

In May Kara, who is Druze, met openly with delegates from Gulf states as they gathered in Ecuador for the swearing-in of Lenin Moreno as the country’s new leader.

Kara, at the time a minister without portfolio, posted photos of himself with representatives from the Palestinian Authority along with delegates from Oman, Qatar and Yemen and other Arab nations as well as the prime minister of the Sahrawi Republic of southern Morocco, Abdelkader Taleb Omar.

Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman listens in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, during a meeting between Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and President Barack Obama. President Barack Obama welcomed Saudi Arabian leaders to the White House for discussions on his overtures to Iran. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman listens in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, during a meeting between Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and President Barack Obama. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister and head of an economic council tasked with overhauling the country’s economy. He had previously been the second in line to the throne as deputy crown prince, though royal watchers had long suspected his rise to power under his father’s reign might also accelerate his ascension to the throne.

Salman has embarked on major overseas visits, including a trip to the White House to meet US President Donald Trump in March. That visit to Washington helped lay the foundation for Trump’s stop in Saudi Arabia in May, which kicked off the president’s first overseas visit and which was promoted heavily by the kingdom as proof of its weight in the region and wider Muslim world.

The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015. He had previously been in charge of his father’s royal court when Salman was crown prince.

The Saudi monarch, who holds near absolute powers, quickly awarded his son expansive powers, to the surprise of many within the royal family who are more senior and more experienced than Mohammed bin Salman, also known by his initials MBS.

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