Benjamin Netanyahu: Peace with Saudi Arabia would ‘end the Arab-Israeli conflict’

Israel's November 2022 General Elections
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at an election-night event on November 1, 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel. Amir Levy/Getty Images

Benjamin Netanyahu: Peace with Saudi Arabia would ‘end the Arab-Israeli conflict’

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EXCLUSIVE — Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister of Israel for more time than anyone else in the country’s history.

But as he prepares to return to office, he’s setting another ambitious goal: a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia that would, he told the Washington Examiner in an exclusive interview, “effectively end the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

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“And I believe we can get peace with other countries as well if we do that,” Netanyahu said, adding that a formal peace with the Saudis would “expand the circle of peace beyond our wildest dreams.”

During Netanyahu’s previous term in office, the Trump administration helped broker what became known as the Abraham Accords, a series of peace and normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. The breakthroughs with the UAE and Bahrain were seen as tacit recognition by the Saudis since their opposition would have scuttled the agreements. Riyadh’s status as the anchor of the Sunni Gulf bloc and as a leading petrostate make it a powerful counterweight to Iran, which is seeking nuclear capability and sponsors hostile proxy governments on Israel’s borders. The Obama administration’s elevation of Iran’s standing in the region, in part through its nuclear deal that Trump later exited, was seen as one of the causes of the increased public cooperation between Israel and the Gulf States.

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But a peace agreement between Jerusalem and Riyadh would likely put the last nail in the coffin of the Arab world’s nonrecognition of Israel and solidify the newly emerging alliance. It would also deal a major setback to prominent Democrats’ efforts to downgrade the U.S.-Saudi relationship in recent years in favor of striking deals with Iran. Such calls grew louder after the Riyadh-sanctioned murder of the dissident and writer Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 but have receded with the Iranian government’s recent bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters.

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Netanyahu’s legacy is on his mind of late. The 73-year-old leader recently published his autobiography, Bibi: My Story. In his discussion with the Washington Examiner, Netanyahu spoke at length about his life and career, as well as his goals for the future. Adding a peace deal with Saudi Arabia would be quite the update to that story. As Netanyahu sees it, the ball is in Riyadh’s court: “It’s up to the Saudis.”

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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