Netanyahu rejects Khamenei 'losing horse' claim about Israel-Saudi Arabia normalisation deal

Iran's Supreme Leader said countries seeking to normalise relations with Israel 'are betting on a losing horse'


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses world leaders during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on September 22, 2023 in New York City. Dignitaries and their delegations from across the globe have descended on New York for the annual event. This year marks the 78th session of the General Debate at the UN Headquarters and has focused on the crisis of global warming. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(JNS) Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed a claim from Iran’s Supreme Leader that countries seeking to normalise relations with Israel "are betting on a losing horse".

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not identify the countries during the remarks on Tuesday but it is understood he was referring to Saudi Arabia.

He added: “The definite position of the Islamic Republic is that countries that make the gamble of normalisation with Israel will lose. They are betting on a losing horse.”

Responding to Khamenei, Netanyahu said Iran's efforts to stop countries in the region from forging ties with Israel will fail, citing agreements it signed with Arab nations in 2020.

He said: "Just as Iran hasn't prevented us from achieving the Abraham Accords, Iran will also not prevent us from expanding the circle of peace for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, the people of the region and all of humanity."

Vedant Patel, principal deputy US State Department spokesman also addressed the comments. Asked about Khamenei’s remarks, he said: “What I will just say is that I’m not sure that we are really interested in the supreme leader’s point of view on this, when it comes to what we think could be a potentially transformative normalisation agreement for the region.”

Patel added: “What I will also just add is that part of this, of course, with these countries—with Israel, with, of course, Saudi Arabia—the nexus of our bilateral relationships with both of these countries is, of course, the role that they play in countering and combating against the malign and destabilising activities that the Iranian regime partakes in in the region.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said in an interview broadcast on September 20 that a deal on ties with Israel was getting closer by the day and Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden held a long-awaited meeting to discuss the prospects.

A framework US brokered deal for forging relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia could be in place by early next year, the Israeli foreign minister said last month, after the three countries signalled progress in the complex negotiations.

An Israeli-Saudi normalisation would dramatically redraw the Middle East by formally bringing together two major US partners in the face of Iran - a foreign-policy flourish for Biden as he seeks re-election in late 2024.

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