Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel is making strides towards a “quantum leap” in regional relations, which he predicted would culminate in full diplomatic ties and trade with Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at an event held in Jerusalem by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Netanyahu warned of the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons – a danger that has brought Israel closer to former enemies across the Middle East.
“If Iran achieves its goals of reaching nuclear weapons it puts the future of Israel at risk, it puts the future of world peace at risk. There has been a growing understanding among the world leaders, and a growing understanding between the US and Israel of the dangers of Iran.”
“Israel will do what it has to do to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu added.
Netanyahu touted the Abraham Accords not only as a bulwark against Iran, but also as proof that Israel can secure peace with the Arab world without a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
“The premise used to be that you cannot expand the peace with the Arab countries with the Arab world without first having peace with the Palestinians. Now there's only one problem. The Palestinians don't want peace with Israel. They want peace without Israel.”
“The simple truth is that the reason this conflict has not been solved is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to recognize the Jewish state.”
Despite the persisting tensions between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Netanyahu predicted Israel is on the threshold of a “quantum leap” in relations with the Arab world that could ultimately lead to formal relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“A quantum leap in expanding the circle of peace would be peace with Saudi Arabia.”
“This maybe through gradual steps,” Netanyahu said. “I think it will be a historic turning point, at least as big as the Abraham Accords, and I think it would launch a historic change in Israel's position in the Middle East and in the world.”
Following this “quantum leap” in ties, Netanyahu envisioned a contiguous transportation network running north-south from northern Israel to Saudi Arabia.
“The first thing is to connect the Arabian Peninsula with the Port of Haifa by a rail link that will go through the spine of the Arabian Peninsula through Jordan, and connect the Haifa in a rail like that we have already built.”
“This could allow cargo to go from the Arabian Peninsula to Europe and back without crossing any of the choke points that you have to do if you go by sea.”
“There's no reason why there can't be also an oil pipeline that does exactly the same thing.”