Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu told the Washington Examiner in an interview on Friday that his goal is to achieve a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia that would “effectively end the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
“And I believe we can get peace with other countries as well if we do that,” Netanyahu told the Examiner’s executive editor Seth Mandel, adding that a formal peace with the Saudis would “expand the circle of peace beyond our wildest dreams.”
Netanyahu said that the ball is in Riyadh’s court, telling Mandel, “It’s up to the Saudis.”
Israel has been for years rumored to have behind-the-scenes ties with Saudi Arabia, but the Saudis have vehemently denied those rumors.
Saudi Arabia announced in July that the Kingdom’s airspace will be opened for all air carriers, including Israeli ones.
Saudi Arabian officials have repeatedly said that a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital is a prerequisite for Saudi Arabia normalizing ties with Israel.
In the interview with the Examiner, Netanyahu commented on the Abraham Accords which were signed during his previous term in office and brokered by the Trump administration.
“I did succeed after a while to persuade President Trump and his team that we have an opportunity. Because of the rise of Iran's power and the rise of Israel's power, Arab countries began to look differently at Israel, not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally against Iranian aggression, which threatens them as well, and also as a source for crucial innovation in areas like energy, water, medicine, you name it, because Israel is a juggernaut of innovation.”
“As a result, we made four historic peace treaties with Arab states — with United Arab Emirates, with Bahrain, with Morocco, and with Sudan — because of this different approach, which I had to work on. I described some clandestine meetings that I had before 2016, before the rise of the Trump administration. I already had secret meetings with Arab leaders to lay the foundation for the historic Abraham Accords, which were helped later of course by President Trump and his team,” he continued.
“But we couldn't get there without making this shift in Israeli power. Israel becoming a power among the nations also allowed us to make peace with the surrounding nations, or begin to,” said Netanyahu.
Mandel also asked Netanyahu about the efforts to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and about the 2015 Iran deal, from which Trump withdrew. While the Biden administration negotiated in an attempt to return to the deal, those contacts have stalled over, among other things, Iran’s refusal to cooperate with an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe into undeclared uranium particles found in Iran.
“Well, first of all, you have to do everything in your power to delay or block them. I think the actions that my governments have taken, which I obviously don't elaborate on, but the various actions that we've made probably set them back about 10 years, at least. That's what our outgoing [Israel Defense Forces] chief of staff said. I don't describe them. But one of them I do mention. And that's the raid that the Mossad carried under my orders to a secret atomic archive in a suburb of Tehran. It was hidden, masquerading in a dilapidated warehouse,” replied Netanyahu.
“Our guys went there, they busted the safes, these modern safes, took half a ton of material. If you'd seen the movie Argo, this was Argo on super steroids. Because thousands of Iranian security personnel were chasing them in Tehran. And finally they got out, brought the material to Israel. I distilled it, brought it to President Trump, showed it to him. And I think it helped give backing to his decision to get out of this flawed nuclear deal, which would merely have paved Iran's path with gold to a nuclear arsenal.”
Netanyahu opined that no agreement will stop a rogue regime such as Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “Not only because they cheat, but in the case of the Iran deal, they don't have to cheat. They just have to keep the deal. In three, four years, they'll have, under international seal of approval on this deal, basically unrestricted enrichment of uranium, which is the hardest component of making a nuclear arsenal. They'll just be able to do it as much as they want. They'll become a threshold nuclear state with international approval,” he warned.
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)