Israel 'on cusp' of peace deal with Saudi Arabia to create 'New Middle East', says Netanyahu

The Israeli PM also said Israel and the Arab states were united by feeling a threat from the 'tyrants of Tehran'


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)

Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is "at the cusp" of securing a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia.

In an address to the UN General Assembly on Friday, the Israeli PM said "peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will truly create a new Middle East."

Netanyahu pointed to agreements in 2020 to establish formal ties with three other Arab states had already "heralded the dawn of a new age of peace.” Israel established relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, its first normalisations with the Arab world in decades after making peace with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.

He added: “But I believe that we are at the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough - an historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia."

"Such a peace will go a long way to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. It will encourage other Arab states to normalise their relations with Israel.”

Netanyahu also firmly rejected the insistence of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, in his own UN speech on Thursday, that there could be no peace in the Middle East without a Palestinian state.

"We must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states," Netanyahu said.

"The Palestinians could greatly benefit from a broader peace. They should be part of that process. But they should not have a veto over the process."

Netanyahu went on to claim the “so-called experts” had been pessimistic of normalisation between Israel and the Arab world.

He explained: “They were based on one false idea—that unless we first concluded a peace agreement with the Palestinians, no other Arab state would normalise its relations with Israel.

“I have long sought to make peace with the Palestinians, but I also believe that we must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states."

US President Joe Biden's administration has been leading talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, recently said that the two sides were getting closer.

Netanyahu met Biden earlier this week and the US president suggested a US-led push to forge diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in the week, the Israeli prime minister met António Guterres. However, the secretary-general of the United Nations also met the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, who is widely known as the 'Butcher of Tehran'.

Addressing Iran, the Israeli PM went on to make a veiled threat of nuclear attack if the country pursues its own atomic bomb.

He said: “Above all - above all - Iran must face a credible nuclear threat. As long as I'm prime minister of Israel, I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu also said that Israel and the Arab states were united by feeling a threat from the "tyrants of Tehran", referring to the Shiite clerics who have ruled Iran since 1979.

Netanyahu went on to describe the biblical story of Moses separating the Israelites between two mountains, with Mount Gerizim associated with blessings and Mount Ebal with curses. He held up a map of the Middle East and a red pen, and noted that he had demonstrated the Iranian threat to the region using the same props in 2018.

He also discussed the potential of AI, including in medical technologies. “I know it sounds like a John Lennon song,” he said. But he said AI is already changing the world and expressed confidence that AI will help all of humanity. He noted that Israel is among the nations leading on this front.

World leaders must collectively ensure that artificial intelligence helps prevent instead of starting wars, helps people live longer, healthier and more productive and peaceful lives, Netanyahu said. “It’s within our reach.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive