Netanyahu finds Khashoggi murder ‘horrendous’, but says Riyadh’s stability too important

Netanyahu finds Khashoggi murder ‘horrendous’, but says Riyadh’s stability too important
The Israeli PM has somewhat condemned the murder of Jamal Khashoggi though he stressed that Saudi Arabia is way too important as a counterbalance to Iran, which he sees as a far “larger problem” than one assassinated journalist.

After a month of silence, Benjamin Netanyahu has finally spoken out against the murder of the Washington Post columnist who was ‘disappeared’ upon entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He echoed, however, the rhetoric of the US administration, which so far has been reluctant to say or do anything that could upset the Saudi monarchy, likely awaiting the blame to be shifted upon a group of rogue agents and officials who have nothing to do with the House of Saud.

“What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous, and it should be duly dealt with,” Netanyahu said, speaking in the Bulgarian town of Varna. “Yet at the same time I say it, it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”

“I think that a way must be found to achieve both goals,” Netanyahu stressed, “because the larger problem is Iran, and we have to make sure that Iran does not continue the malign activities.”

While Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations, they are both close allies of the United States in the region. A reciprocal animosity towards Iran is one of the strategic, mutually uniting factors in this trilateral relationship and, over recent years, a number of reports have indicated behind-the-scenes intelligence cooperation between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

Considering the US geostrategic and financial interests in preserving $450 billion-worth of deals with the Saudis, Donald Trump has yet to issue any definitive response over the journalist’s murder. While seeking to work out possible sanctions against the Kingdom with Congress, whose composition might change following next week's midterm elections, holding on to a $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh seems to be Trump’s top priority.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that it will probably take “weeks” before the US administration gathers enough information about the perpetrators to decide on its response. While Washington remains “committed” to holding all those responsible for the murder accountable, the Kingdom remains a “solid partner” in the US effort to “change” Iran's behavior, Pompeo said.

The murder of the 59-year old journalist and ardent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, initially covered up by Saudi officials, caused a diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and its allies. Amid a public outcry and reports that Khashoggi was brutally tortured, killed, and dismembered, the Kingdom launched an investigation, admitted the journalist’s death and, so far, has produced 18 suspects in the case.

READ MORE: Khashoggi strangled in planned attack, body dismembered – Turkish prosecutor

The journalist’s remains are yet to be found and recently even the Saudi prosecutors admitted that the killing seemed “premeditated.” Meanwhile, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan said Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the diplomatic compound.

On Friday Turkey’s President, in an article in the Washington Post, directly accused the Saudi government of being responsible for Khashoggi's fate.“We know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote, stopping short of accusing the royal family. “Khashoggi was killed in cold blood by a death squad, and it has been established that his murder was premeditated.”

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