Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in a televised interview with CNBC on Thursday that the Saudi Arabian leadership is meeting with Israel’s enemies “maybe to tell them to stop the kind of terrorism that they foment.”
Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Netanyahu said the warming ties between Riyadh and Tehran brokered by China do not necessarily portend trouble for Israel.
“I think it has probably a lot more to do with the desire to de-escalate or even eliminate the long-standing conflict in Yemen.
“I think that Saudi Arabia, the leadership there, has no illusions about who are their adversaries and who are their friends in the Middle East, and I think they understand that Israel is the indispensable partner for the Arab world in achieving security, prosperity, and peace,” he said.
“We’ve already had steps for normalization with Saudi Arabia … we’ve been flying over the airspace of Saudi Arabia since … two years before the Abraham Accords. We recently got the ability to fly over Saudi airspace and Omani airspace and we cut the time to India and Asia by hours.
“All of these things are obviously happening with … their full cooperation. I think the possibilities are endless. I think that what is being shown in the Gulf states throughout the Arabian Peninsula is tremendous imagination, tremendous entrepreneurship, and if you combine that with Israeli innovation – which is also tremendous – I think the sky is the limit, and even the sky is not the limit, because there are many opportunities in space as well.
Peace Only Possible by Starting with Arab World
“I think they understand that there are enemies of peace, there are terrorist organizations – usually fomented by Iran – but forces like Hezbollah and Hamas, they don’t want to see Israel here. By the way, they don’t want to see many of the Arab governments here,” Netanyahu said.
“I don’t think the Saudi leadership has any illusions about the nature of its friends and the nature of its adversaries, and also the nature of those who foment violence deliberately.
“Those who partner with Iran partner with misery,” Netanyahu pointed out, referencing the collapse of social stability in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (along with its Iranian proxy, the Hezbollah terrorist organization).
Several Palestinian Authority terrorist organizations are generously funded, equipped, trained and controlled by Iran, among them Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization and its ally, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. Those terrorist groups are deeply involved in the decisions of the Palestinian Authority leadership and the Ramallah government.
“Look. If we wait for the Palestinians, we’re never gonna get peace,” he said, “because unfortunately the Palestinians are commandeered by a leadership that wants to see Israel disappear. They don’t want peace with Israel, they want to see a peace without Israel.”
The way to get peace ultimately, he said, is to “go to the Arab states first, make peace with the Arab world, and circle back in and then make peace with the Palestinians who realize that Israel’s here to stay,” he added.
China’s Alleged Offer to Broker Israel-Palestinian Authority Peace
Netanyahu also said he was unaware of a Chinese offer to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, recently reported in some media.
“I’m not aware of any specific offer of this kind,” he said.
“Look. We respect China,” he said carefully. “We deal with China a great deal. But we also know that we have an indispensable alliance with our great friend the United States.
Urges Greater US Involvement in Middle East
“If we can have others contributing to the region’s prosperity and peace, we welcome it,” Netanyahu said.
“But I think that not only Israel, but I think in many ways, most of the countries in the Middle East would welcome not merely the American involvement in the Middle East, which has been ongoing, but a greater engagement of America in the Middle East,” he emphasized.
“I think it’s very important for the United States to be very clear about its commitment and its engagement in the Middle East,” Netanyahu warned. “I think that contributes enormously to stability and to security and ultimately to peace.”