Title: Netanyahu’s UN Speech Spurs Optimism for Israeli-Saudi Ties, but Sparks Concerns Over Palestinian Concessions
Text: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent address at the UN General Assembly has generated praise from his coalition partners, who laud his efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia. However, they remain steadfast in their resistance to making any concessions to the Palestinians as part of the potential agreement.
In a show of strong opposition, Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Oztma Yehudit party, along with the Religious Zionism party, have threatened to withdraw from the coalition if any concessions are made to the Palestinians. This poses a significant challenge for Netanyahu, as both the United States and Saudi Arabia have indicated that Israel must provide substantial measures to advance a two-state solution.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, representing the Religious Zionism party, commended Netanyahu’s speech but made it clear that he is only willing to offer economic incentives in exchange for normalization with Saudi Arabia.
Some coalition lawmakers have used the term “peace for peace” to describe Netanyahu’s speech, drawing a parallel to the successful 2020 Abraham Accords. However, it is important to note that as part of the UAE deal, Netanyahu agreed to suspend plans to annex portions of the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid criticized Netanyahu for failing to address Saudi Arabia’s call for a civilian nuclear program in his UN speech, highlighting the complexity of the negotiations.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in an interview with Fox News, affirmed that Saudi Arabia is moving closer to normalizing ties with Israel. However, he emphasized the significance of addressing the Palestinian issue in the process.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has expressed its desire to be part of the normalization process with Saudi Arabia, despite concerns that it may lead to the abandonment of the Arab Peace Initiative. The PA has revised its demands and is now seeking smaller, incremental steps before committing to a comprehensive two-state solution.
As the potential for closer Israeli-Saudi ties looms on the horizon, Netanyahu’s coalition partners continue to underscore their opposition to concessions to the Palestinians. While the Prime Minister’s speech has sparked optimism, it remains to be seen how the intricate balance between regional interests and the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations will unfold.
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