Netanyahu: Israel on the Verge of Peace with Saudi Arabia
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his belief that his country is on the cusp of achieving peace with Saudi Arabia. He predicts that President Joe Biden could play a crucial role in clinching this historic deal, which has the potential to reshape the Middle East.
Excluding Palestinians from the Diplomacy
Despite pressure from Riyadh and Washington to involve the Palestinians in the peace negotiations, Netanyahu firmly stated during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York that the Palestinians should not have the power to veto regional agreements.
Anticipation for the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia has intensified recently. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared that a deal was drawing closer each day, and Netanyahu finally had a long-awaited meeting with President Biden to discuss the prospects.
Netanyahu referred to the 2020 normalization accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords, as a precursor to this potential breakthrough. These accords, sponsored by former President Donald Trump, marked the beginning of a new era of peace.
“There’s no question: The Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” Netanyahu affirmed. “I believe we’re on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
However, achieving such a deal would require significant support from U.S. lawmakers, which may prove challenging with the upcoming presidential election in 2024.
While acknowledging Trump’s role in the previous agreement, Netanyahu expressed his hope that the current administration, led by President Biden, would be able to finalize this momentous peace deal.
“I believe we can achieve peace with Saudi Arabia under the leadership of President Biden,” he stated.
Although Netanyahu expressed willingness to seek some accommodation with the Palestinians, whose aspirations for statehood are rejected by his government, he emphasized that the Palestinians should not hold veto power over new peace treaties with Arab states.
On the other hand, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at the same forum on Thursday, asserted, “Whoever thinks peace in the Middle East is possible before our people achieve their full rights is delusional.”
Netanyahu, who has frequently used the U.N. platform to caution against Iran, described the country as the “fly in the ointment” that would attempt to sabotage a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia.
However, he highlighted that normalization efforts were already underway, citing the three-year-old air corridor for Israeli carriers over Saudi territory and a recent ambitious plan announced by President Biden to establish a rail and shipping network connecting India to the Mediterranean Sea, with both Israel and Saudi Arabia as participants.
To illustrate this, Netanyahu drew a red line across a regional map, reminiscent of his 2012 U.N. speech where he used a marker to outline a proposed “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program.
“Today, I bring this marker to demonstrate a great blessing,” he declared, referring to the normalization with Saudi Arabia as “an extraordinary change, a monumental change, another pivot of history.”
(Reporting by Dan Williams and James Mackenzie in Jerusalem; editing by Howard Goller)
What are the significant challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve a lasting peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, considering issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the future of Palestinian refugees
Challenging given the current political climate in Washington. Additionally, the exclusion of the Palestinians from the peace negotiations raises concerns about the potential impact on their aspirations for statehood and the overall stability of the region.
The Role of President Joe Biden
Netanyahu expressed his optimism about President Joe Biden’s involvement in the peace process, stating that Biden has a unique opportunity to contribute to this historic breakthrough. The Israeli prime minister believes that Biden’s diplomatic approach and commitment to regional stability could pave the way for closer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
However, it is worth noting that Biden has emphasized the importance of Palestinian inclusion in any peace negotiations. He has expressed his commitment to a two-state solution and the rights of the Palestinian people. This stance may pose a challenge to Netanyahu’s vision of excluding the Palestinians from the peace talks.
The Significance of a Peace Deal with Saudi Arabia
A peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia would have far-reaching implications for the Middle East and the wider world. It would not only solidify Israel’s position as an accepted member of the region but also mark a significant shift in Saudi Arabia’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Saudi Arabia has long been seen as a key player in the Arab world’s stance on Israel, with the Arab Peace Initiative offering normalization with Israel in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state. A breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi relations could potentially reshape the dynamics of the entire region and encourage other Arab countries to follow suit.
Furthermore, a peace deal with Saudi Arabia could enhance regional security and cooperation, particularly in countering common threats such as Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia share concerns about Iran’s regional ambitions and its support for proxy groups in the Middle East. Cooperation between the two countries would strengthen their ability to confront these challenges effectively.
While Netanyahu’s optimism about the prospects of a peace deal with Saudi Arabia is commendable, there are significant challenges that need to be addressed. The exclusion of the Palestinians from the peace negotiations raises concerns about the long-term viability and sustainability of any agreement reached without their involvement.
Additionally, there are still unresolved issues between Israel and Saudi Arabia, such as the status of Jerusalem and the future of Palestinian refugees. These issues have been central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would need to be addressed in any comprehensive peace agreement.
Furthermore, domestic political considerations in both Israel and Saudi Arabia may also hinder the progress towards a peace deal. In Israel, Netanyahu faces political challenges and a fragile coalition government, which may impact his ability to push through significant diplomatic initiatives. Similarly, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s political ambitions and the succession dynamics within the Saudi royal family could present obstacles to a rapid normalization of ties with Israel.
While the idea of Israel and Saudi Arabia achieving a historic peace agreement is tantalizing, significant challenges exist that must be overcome. The exclusion of the Palestinians from the peace negotiations raises concerns about the long-term stability of the region, while domestic political considerations and unresolved issues pose additional obstacles.
President Joe Biden’s role in this process and his commitment to Palestinian inclusion will be crucial in shaping the future of Israeli-Saudi relations. It remains to be seen whether the current diplomatic momentum can translate into a lasting peace that truly reshapes the Middle East.
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