Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on November 13, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun

Israel’s leader spoke out in support of the monarchy in Riyadh on Friday, saying “stability” should be prioritized as the kingdom seeks to quell the outcry over the murder of a prominent critic.

“What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous and it should be duly dealt with. Yet at the same time […] it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in Bulgaria, where he was attending the Craiova Forum.

“The larger problem is Iran and we have to make sure that Iran does not continue the malign activities that it has been doing over the last few weeks in Europe,” he said in comments reported by Haaretz.

It was his first public statement on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, perhaps the most prominent Saudi Arabian commentator in the West at the time of his murder on October 2 in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, a longtime palace insider, over the past year used his platform with the Washington Post to criticize the policies and narrative of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Those writings came at an unwelcome time, as the Trump administration and Netanyahu were hoping for the young anti-Iran ruler to succeed.

The outcry over Khashoggi’s disappearance has forced the Saudis to admit to the murder, and Riyadh still appears to be in the process of formulating an adequate response – one that will allow allies to continue backing Crown Prince Mohammed and that will placate potential investors.

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