A peace initiative between Israel and Saudi Arabia would lead to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.
To read the full transcript, click here.
Netanyahu suggested that extending the progress made in the 2020 Abraham Accords to other Arab states would be a more effective route to peace than engaging with Palestinian leaders directly, who he claimed were not willing to recognize the State of Israel.
“I think the peace with Saudi Arabia will serve two purposes: It will be a quantum leap for an overall peace between Israel and the Arab world, it will change our region in ways that are unimaginable,” he said, “and I think it will facilitate, ultimately, a Palestinian-Israeli peace. I believe in that. I intend to pursue it.”
Saudi Arabia has historically been one of the biggest backers of the Palestinian cause and has repeatedly stated that it needed to see a Palestinian state before moving ahead with potential normalization with Israel.
Although the Kingdom has not officially commented on the Abraham Accords -- a peace initiative between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain -- there have been signs of a thaw in relations in recent years.
Shortly after the accords were signed, Saudi Arabia announced that flights “from all countries,” including Israel, could cross its airspace to reach the UAE.
In an October 2020 interview with Al Arabiya, the influential former Saudi Ambassador to the US Bandar bin Sultan said: “The Palestinian cause is a just cause, but its advocates are failures. And the Israeli cause is unjust, but its advocates have proven to be successful.”
Netanyahu on Wednesday also pointed the blame at Palestinian leaders for the failure to achieve peace.
“The reason we’ve not had an Israeli-Palestinian peace is because the Palestinian… leadership for the last century has refused to do what is finally happening in the rest of the Arab world -- and that is to recognize that the State of Israel is here to stay.”
But Netanyahu admitted that achieving peace with Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam and the Arab world’s largest economy, was “up to the leadership of Saudi Arabia.”
In 2002, Saudi Arabia spearheaded the Arab Peace Initiative, a proposal to achieve Arab-Israeli peace if Israel agreed to reverse all occupation of Arab territories.
When asked about the initiative and if he was prepared to use it as a blueprint, Netanyahu avoided committing to the terms it laid out.
He said it was “an indication of a desire to end the conflict in all its terms, but I think 20 years later we need to have a fresh view.”
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