Israeli PM Netanyahu tells Bret Baier ‘we’re getting closer to peace every day that passes’ with Saudi Arabia
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said he was glad to hear the optimistic tone from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about ongoing efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
“I was delighted to hear what he had to say,” Netanyahu told Fox News chief political anchor and anchor and executive editor Bret Baier in an interview on “Special Report” following his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. “I think we’re getting closer to peace every day that passes.”
Netanyahu’s remarks came in response to Baier’s world exclusive interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) this week about ongoing talks between the kingdom and Israel.
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“Every day we get closer, it seems it’s for the first time real. We get to see how it goes,” the prince said.
The prince called the potential agreement “the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War,” which he stated would rest upon agreements related to the treatment of the Palestinians. He insisted his country could work with Israel, no matter who is in charge, calling the deal.”
“If we have a breakthrough of reaching a deal that gives the Palestinians their needs and makes the region calm, we’re going to work with whoever is there,” said MBS.
The prince did not specify what he seeks for the Palestinians. Netanyahu said Palestinians should be part of the peace process, but that they shouldn’t “have a veto over the process.”
“The reason we didn’t have for a quarter-century any new peace treaties after we made peace with Egypt and Jordan, we didn’t have for 25 years a single new peace treaty because everybody said, first you have to satisfy whatever the demands of the Palestinians are,” Netanyahu told Baier. “You’ve got to conclude a peace treaty with the Palestinians. Well, there was only one problem with that. The Palestinians don’t want a peace with Israel.”
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“They want a peace instead of Israel. They don’t want a state next to Israel,” Netanyahu added. “They want a state instead of Israel. So that wasn’t going to get us anywhere.”
During his Friday speech at the UNGA, Netanyahu said both nations were “on the cusp” of a breakthrough leading to a peace agreement.
Israel has normalized relations with six countries near its borders, including Egypt and Jordan. Four nations did so after the 2020 Abraham Accords.
“There’s no question the Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace. But I believe that we are at the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough, a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu said. “Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will truly create a new Middle East.”
He said there remain hurdles before a peace agreement can be achieved but that it’s up to world leaders to come together and put aside their differences.
“I think that when you have three leaders and three countries that avidly want a result – the United States under President Biden, Saudi Arabia under the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israel under my premiership – I think that really raises the possibility we’ll succeed,” he said.
Netanyahu said he thought MBS was “quite a visionary” regarding the transformation in his own country and the larger picture for the transformation of the Middle East.
He also stood firm on his stance that Iran should not possess nuclear weapons. During his interview with Baier, MBS said Saudi Arabia would have to get its own nuclear weapon should Iran also possess one “for security reasons. For the balance of power.”
“I think Iran should be prevented in every possible manner from getting nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister faces deep opposition among his own citizens over his contentious judicial overhaul, which has divided the nation. Netanyahu’s coalition said an overhaul is necessary to rein in an unelected judiciary they believe wields too much power.
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Critics say the plan — which would weaken the Supreme Court — is a profound threat to Israeli democracy and that it would concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies.
“Right now in Israel, the supreme court has no checks and no balances,” he said. “We have to restore some of it but we have to do it carefully and responsibly and that’s what I’m doing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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