At U.N. Speech, Netanyahu Says Peace With Saudi Arabia is Imminent

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters/Hamodia) – Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday that he believed his country was on the cusp of peace with Saudi Arabia, predicting it could be clinched by U.S. President Joe Biden and reshape the Middle East.

Yet, amid urging by Riyadh and Washington that the Palestinians be included in the diplomacy, Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Palestinians should not be allowed to veto the regional dealmaking.

Expectations that Israel might normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, a regional economic and political powerhouse, have been ratcheted up this week. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said a deal was getting closer by the day and Netanyahu and the matter was discussed with Biden during his long-awaited meeting with Netanyahu to discuss the prospects.

Netanyahu described as a precursor, the 2020 normalization accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords and coordinated by then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

“There’s no question: The Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” he said. “I believe we’re on the cusp of a more dramatic breakthrough: A historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

While crediting Trump for the previous deal, Netanyahu made clear he hoped the current administration would clinch this one.

“I believe we can achieve peace with Saudi Arabia with the leadership of President Biden,” he said.

Though he voiced willingness to seek some accommodation with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said: “We must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states.” Netanyahu went on to say that peace with neighboring Arab states will benefit all parties, including the Palestinians themselves.

Netanyahu, who has in the past warned against the threat of a nuclear Iran at his U.N. speech, described the Islamist country as the “fly in the ointment” that would try to wreck a deal with Saudi Arabia.

But he cast normalization as already in the works, citing the now three-year-old air corridor for Israeli carriers over Saudi territory and an ambitious plan, announced by Biden this month, to make both countries part of a rail and shipping network that would run from India to the Mediterranean Sea.

He illustrated the latter with a red line he drew across a regional map – a play on a 2012 U.N. speech in which he used a marker to draw a proposed “red line” for Iran’s nuclear drive.

“Today I bring this marker to show a great blessing,” he said, deeming normalization with Saudi Arabia “an extraordinary change, a monumental change, another pivot of history.”

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