update deskMiddle East

Netanyahu: Bringing Saudi Arabia into Abraham Accords would be ‘quantum leap’

Such a peace would bring the "effective end of the Israeli-Arab conflict," said the prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meeting in Jerusalem, Feb. 19, 2023. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meeting in Jerusalem, Feb. 19, 2023. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night said he was actively courting Saudi Arabia in an effort to persuade it to join in the Abraham Accords as that would constitute a “quantum leap” towards regional peace.

Netanyahu, in an address to the National Leadership Mission of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, characterized the Trump administration-brokered agreements that normalized Israel’s relations with four Arab countries as a “warm peace.”

That peace, he added, “encompasses not only governments but also substantial parts of the Arab peoples of the Gulf, who now recognize that Israel is not the demon that they’ve been told about for so many decades. They understand the benefits to their own lives, they want to expand it. Well, we want to expand it too,” said the prime minister.

“Obviously, the next step could be not just another country but a quantum leap in expanding the circle of peace, and I’m talking of course about peace with Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu continued. “I think that if we can achieve this, maybe through gradual steps, maybe it will take some normalization steps, it will change Israel’s relationship with the rest of the Arab world.

“It will lead to the effective ending of the Israeli-Arab conflict—not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [but] the Israeli-Arab conflict, and will also help normalize Israel’s relationship with a great part of the Muslim world,” he added.

Netanyahu said that one of the primary reasons Israel has been able to forge a rapprochement with the Arab world was that many countries therein recognized the dangers posed by Iran’s nuclear program and regional expansionism.

“They also recognize the great benefits to their own people from Israel’s great leap, great progress, in technology that could help them in just an infinite number of ways. And that led to a closing of the ranks. Actually, 2015 was when these clandestine meetings that we had with Arab leaders really took off, and from there we went on, with American assistance, obviously, to complete the Abraham Accords,” said Netanyahu.

Normalizing ties with Riyadh would mark a “historic turning point” for the Jewish state as regards its position in the Middle East and the world, he said.

“This is a goal that we’re working on in parallel with stopping Iran. The two are in many ways intertwined,” Netanyahu said.

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