Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday he was glad to hear an optimistic tone from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about ongoing efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
“I was glad to hear what he had to say,” Netanyahu told Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier in an exclusive “Special Report” interview after his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “I think we’re getting closer to peace with each passing day.”
Netanyahu’s remarks came in response to Bayer’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 like it’s the first time it’s real. We can see how it goes,” the prince said.
The prince called the potential deal “the biggest historic deal since the end of the Cold War,” which he said would be based on agreements related to the treatment of Palestinians. He insisted that his country could work with Israel, regardless of who is in charge, by closing the deal.”
“If we make significant progress in reaching an agreement that will provide the Palestinians with their needs and make the region peaceful, we will work with whoever is there,” MBS said.
The prince did not specify what he was seeking for the Palestinians. Netanyahu said the Palestinians should be part of the peace process, but that they should not “have a right to veto the process.”
“The reason we didn’t have a new peace treaty for a quarter of a century after the peace with Egypt and Jordan, we didn’t have a new peace treaty for 25 years because everyone said, first you have to satisfy whatever the demands of the Palestinians are,” he said. Netanyahu to Baier. “You have to make a peace treaty with the Palestinians. Well, there was only one problem with that. The Palestinians don’t want 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 would get us nowhere.”
During his speech on Friday to the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu said both nations are “on the threshold” of a breakthrough that will lead to a peace deal.
Israel has normalized relations with six countries near its borders, including Egypt and Jordan. Four nations did so after the 2020 Abrahamic Covenants.
“There is no doubt that the Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new era of peace. But I believe we are on the threshold 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 were still obstacles to reaching a peace deal, but that it was up to world leaders to come together and put aside their differences.
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“I think when you have three leaders and three countries that desperately want an outcome — the United States under President Biden, Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israel under my prime minister — I think that really increases the possibility to succeed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.