Opinion

The US should put Israeli-Saudi peace first

President Joe Biden has a chance to change the course of history and secure his legacy.

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Orhan Durgut/Shutterstock
The Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Orhan Durgut/Shutterstock
Bobby Rechnitz
Bobby Rechnitz is a Los-Angeles based philanthropist and real estate developer who serves as chairman of the Golda Meir Commemorative Coin Committee and the Abraham Accords Roundtable.

It is clear that, despite global perceptions to the contrary, the Israeli people are desperate for peace. If they believe that there is someone on the other side prepared to meet them even part of the way, they are willing to go to considerable lengths to achieve a compromise.

That is why Israeli voters have elected several prime ministers who pledged to sign peace agreements and took action to do so.

When mugged by reality, however, Israelis want a leader who brings them security and safety. When Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas turned down an overly generous offer from then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, the majority of Israelis understood that there would be no agreement with a rejectionist who lies about Jewish history and the Jewish connection to the land, incites against Israel in international forums and continues to pay salaries to terrorists who murder Jews.

Nevertheless, Israelis crave peace. Thus, they have warmly embraced the Abraham Accords.

But Israel knows that the big prize is Saudi Arabia, which has yet to normalize relations with the Jewish state. However, the Saudis have taken significant and welcome steps towards reconciliation with Israel in recent years.

Peace between Israel and the most important Arab-Muslim nation on earth would change the entire Middle East for the better, especially in the ongoing battle to subdue Iran’s malevolent regional behavior.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, peace with Saudi Arabia would effectively end the Arab-Israeli conflict. This would be a major victory for everyone who seeks a more peaceful and fraternal Middle East.

Unfortunately, it seems that some in the Biden administration would rather use this exciting possibility as a carrot to dangle in front of Israel rather than take concrete action to achieve it.

Barely a day has gone by in recent months without someone in the administration complaining about an Israeli policy and trying to intimate that it is preventing peace with Saudi Arabia.

This is demonstrably untrue. The Saudis and Israelis want peace, they just need a little assistance from the U.S. to get there.

Most telling is the Saudis’ evolving attitude towards the creation of a Palestinian state. Previously, the Saudis had insisted that this was a non-negotiable precondition for peace with Israel. At times, they still profess this uncompromising attitude in public, but recent reports have indicated that, in private, they no longer consider Palestinian statehood a dealbreaker.

It appears that the Saudis have become increasingly flexible on this issue because they do not want to be held for ransom by Abbas and other obdurate Palestinian leaders.

Thus, there are fewer and fewer obstacles to peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia, but one remains.

Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

While Eisenhower was talking about the Cold War, his sentiment is applicable to the situation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel and the Saudis are ready to make peace, they just need the U.S. to stop standing in the way.

Yes, the Saudis have demanded concessions from the U.S. in return for peace with Israel, mainly on security issues and a civilian nuclear program. Such concessions, however, would actually benefit the U.S. in its attempts to contain the increasing threat from Iran.

Indeed, Israeli-Saudi peace would itself be a major blow to Iran, as well as a setback for China and Russia, whose influence in the Middle East is growing at America’s expense.

The Biden administration should set their sentiments on the Palestinian issue aside, along with the Israeli concessions the administration wants to extract, in order to achieve a major peace agreement that will reframe a long-standing conflict and change the map of the region for the better.

The Saudis understand the need to achieve this important goal, to the point that they are increasingly willing to put the previously non-negotiable Palestinian issue aside. Unfortunately, the U.S. will not do so in return.

This is a mistake and must be rectified.

Given that peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia would likely lead to a slew of peace agreements between Israel and various Arab and Muslim countries, it is clear that President Joe Biden now has a chance to literally change the course of history. This would be a major achievement and secure Biden’s legacy. It will also be remembered for generations to come by Arabs and Israelis alike.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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