Wed 20 Sep 2023 7:58 pm - Jerusalem Time
Netanyahu to Biden: Agreement with Saudi Arabia can bring us closer to peace between Israelis and Palestinians
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since his re-election last year, and said that they would discuss “difficult issues,” including “democratic values” and “the balance of powers.”
Biden, who met Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly summit in New York, said he hopes to meet with Netanyahu in Washington "by the end of the year."
Amid his concerns over Netanyahu's controversial judicial reform, Biden refrained from inviting the Israeli prime minister to the White House, and the two men met instead on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
For his part, Netanyahu informed the US President that reaching a “historic peace” agreement with Saudi Arabia was possible, in light of talk about Washington’s efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
Netanyahu said, "Mr. President, I believe that under your leadership we can establish a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia," considering that this could go a "long way" toward achieving peace between the Palestinians and the Hebrew state.
Saudi Arabia has been stressing for many years that the normalization of its relations with Israel and its recognition of it depend on implementing the two-state solution with the Palestinians. The Kingdom did not join the Abraham Accords concluded in 2020, which were brokered by the United States, under which Israel established relations with the Kingdom’s neighbors, the UAE and Bahrain. Sudan and Morocco joined them.
Last week, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said one focus of the talks would be “the democratic values shared by the United States and Israel.”
However, the United States and Israel seem to be far apart recently, especially after the Democratic US President described Netanyahu's right-wing government as one of the most "extremist" governments in Israel's history.
Netanyahu's policies have caused tension in relations with the United States, the country's strongest ally, since his return to power after winning the legislative elections with the support of extreme right-wing parties in December.
The US President strongly criticized the judicial reform plan, which Netanyahu's opponents consider a threat to democracy in Israel and a step towards an illiberal, even authoritarian, path.
In July, Biden received in the Oval Office moderate Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who called for a reconsideration of the judicial reform proposed by the government.
Earlier this year, a dispute arose after Netanyahu said he had received an invitation to visit the White House, but the White House only then said that the two men would meet “in the United States.”
Relations witnessed further tension due to the continuing settlement expansion despite repeated calls by the United Nations to stop it.
But despite the tensions between Biden and Netanyahu, there is no tangible indication that the United States will ease its long-term support for the Hebrew state, which is its main ally in the Middle East.
It is possible that Biden will offer Saudi Arabia an ambitious security deal like the one he recently offered to Japan and South Korea, according to the New York Times.
On Monday, Netanyahu and billionaire Elon Musk discussed the dangers associated with artificial intelligence, Israeli politics, and content control on the “X” platform, during a live conversation on the social network owned by the owner of Tesla and SpaceX.
“I hope you can find the ability to put an end to anti-Semitism (via X) or reduce it as much as possible,” Netanyahu told Musk.