JERUSALEM, Israel – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia declared this week that Israel has a right to its own land. This latest action by the monarch in waiting has many asking, who is this new leader and what does he mean for the world?
The crown prince's statement was a first for a Saudi leader.
"I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land," he said, adding that "we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations."
His statement is one of many changes from Prince Mohammed. He's permitting Saudi women to drive. He opened Saudi airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel and earlier, he said Saudi's kingdom would be a place for all religions.
Evangelical leader Johnny Moore believes Prince Mohammed's changes signal a new day in the Middle East.
"You know I couldn't believe my ears actually when I was watching the news report where the crown prince of Saudi Arabia said directly, verbatim, He said this kingdom will become a kingdom for all religions. I had to watch it again and he was crystal, crystal clear," Moore told CBN News. "When you think about this, this is Saudi Arabia. This is not, this is a country, there aren't churches in that country for the local communities. This is Saudi Arabia. And yet, there is this new openness."
Many explain this new candor as an indication Mohammed wants to open Saudi Arabia to the world. For instance, on April 1, Saudi Arabia issued its first tourist visas. Middle East observers also see the growing closeness of Saudi Arabia to the Jewish state as a sign it recognizes Iran as a common danger.
Islamic expert Mordechai Kedar believes Saudi Arabia is living out a popular saying in the Middle East, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
"So they will stick with anyone who shares their fear from the Iranians," Kedar told CBN News.
"They feel much more vulnerable than Israel. First of all, they are much more closer to Israel. We have buffer zone: Iraq and Jordan. They don't have any buffer. They only have the Persian Gulf, which is nothing," he said. "And the most important thing is that the Iranians want to take over Mecca and Medina to resume the Shia caliphate."
But Kedar says the crown prince arrested many members of his own family and could reap what he has sown.
"And he actually worked totally against the traditions of the desert of the Bedouin tradition …They will never forget and they will never forgive," he warned. "They are waiting for the moment to take revenge. I am more than sure."
In the meantime, Moore sees winds of change in the Middle East.
"You know as evangelicals this is a new day for us in the Middle East. Evangelicals are the baby Christians in the region," Moore said. "You know we have ancient churches here and ancient communities that have been around for a long, long time and yet what we're seeing is a new openness to what evangelicalism is, which I think is a move of the Holy Spirit."