Netanyahu: Iran deal had one positive factor

Prime Minister Netanyahu says Iran nuclear deal brought Israel closer to the Arab world.

Ben Ariel ,

Netanyahu at the Foreign Ministry
Netanyahu at the Foreign Ministry
Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday attended a toast in honor of Rosh Hashanah with Foreign Ministry personnel and spoke of one positive factor in the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

“The agreement with Iran was a bad agreement in every respect except for one – it brought us closer to the Arab world on a scale that we never knew, and one of our goals is that it continues. I think that another important thing is, of course, the fact that there is a gradual normalization with leading countries in the Arab world,” said Netanyahu.

“We are in a process of diplomatic flourishing. We are also in a struggle for justice and the truth and I think that we are in a process of gradual normalization which in the end heralds a genuine opening for peace,” he continued.

“I want to thank you for the great work that goes on here and around the world. The world is coming here and we are going to the world, and our joint work has brought about a flourishing, a diplomatic flourishing that is unprecedented in the history of Israel," concluded the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu last week said he sees a path to peace with Palestinian Arabs through the "normalization" of relations with Arab states which, like his country, are also facing an emboldened Iran.

"Many Arab countries now see Israel not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally in pushing back Iranian aggression," Netanyahu said in an interview with Lithuania's LRT public broadcaster.

"This has created normalization which can lead to peace. I believe that if we have peace with the broader Arab world, it will help us get to peace with the Palestinians," he added.

Israel has peace treaties with just two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, while others insist on an agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a prerequisite that would pave the way to formal relations.

However, reports in recent years have indicated that Israel and Saudi Arabia are getting closer.

One report claimed the Saudi government is weighing the possible normalization of relations with Israel ahead of a planned Middle East peace program by the Trump administration which aims to not only secure a final status agreement between Israel and the PA, but lead to recognition of the Jewish state by the larger Arab world.

Saudi officials have repeatedly denied any ties with Israel, insisting that Israel must accept the so-called Saudi peace plan in order for the two countries to enjoy close ties.

Saudi King Salman recently reaffirmed "steadfast" support for the Palestinian Arab cause after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signalled a shift in the country's approach.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have opposed the Iran nuclear deal and pushed for tougher action against Iran's spreading influence in the Middle East.

During the negotiations between Iran and world powers, Saudi Arabia and other major Sunni states expressed concern over a deal which would allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons.

Ultimately, Saudi Arabia's government announced that it welcomed the deal, though it later said it agreed with Trump’s assessment that the deal is flawed.