Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that any negotiations with Israel would be an “unforgivable mistake”. The comments follow remarks Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made on Monday that Israel has a “right” to a homeland.
The de facto Saudi leader’s comments were widely seen as a futher sign of thawing relations between the kingdom and Israel.
Both countries are major US allies and are arch-rivals of Iran. Riyadh is currently facing off against Tehran in a regional power struggle – the two states back competing factions in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere.
“Movement toward negotiation with the cheating, lying and oppressive regime (of Israel) is a big, unforgivable mistake that will push back the victory of the people of Palestine,” Khamenei said in a official statement.
The statement did not explicitly name Saudi Arabia and said it was the duty of all Muslims to support Palestinian resistance against Israel. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and is home to the religion’s holiest sites.
Prince Mohammad’s comments generated considerable controversy as Israel has in recent days shot and killed unarmed Palestinians protesting along the Gaza-Israel border.
After the crown prince’s comments, his father King Salman reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for Palestine.
Riyadh has insisted that any normalisation of ties with Israel first requires withdrawing from Arab lands captured in 1967. However, Saudi Arabia for the first time opened its airspace to flights – in this case to Air India’s – enroute to Israel.
In November, leaked reports also emerged that Riyadh and Tel Aviv maintain covert contact despite no official diplomatic ties.
Khamenei made the remarks on Wednesday after receiving a letter from Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who criticised Arab states for supporting the US.
Hamas runs the Gaza Strip, where at least 17 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during Land Day demonstrations last week.