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What Saudi crown prince's call to stop weapons exports means for Israel

The crown prince’s comments come amid persistent opposition to Israel’s strikes against Hamas in Gaza in the Arab world.
TOPSHOT - France's President Emmanuel Macron greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he arrives at presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 16, 2023. French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks in Paris, seeking to nudge the de-facto leader of the oil-rich kingdom into more full-throated support of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) called on the international community to cease weapons exports to Israel on Monday, a statement that reflects increased pressure from Riyadh to de-escalate the Israel-Hamas war and complicates Washington's efforts to get Saudi Arabia and Israel to normalize ties.

MBS made the remarks at an extraordinary virtual summit of the BRICS alliance. He said that he “demands that all states stop exporting weapons to Israel” in a video statement published by the Saudi government-funded news outlet Al-Arabiya.

BRICS is an alliance consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The group collectively called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” at Tuesday’s summit, Agence France-Presse reported. BRICS offered permanent membership to Saudi Arabia in August as well as the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Egypt.

Why it matters: It is unclear whether MBS’ remarks will have a major effect on weapons sales, though some current and prospective BRICS members have military relations with Israel. Israel’s annual defense exports to India amount to an estimated $1.5 to $2 billion, according to a December 2022 report from Haaretz, and Israel agreed to sell its SPYDER air defense system to the UAE last year.

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