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Netanyahu urges US to reaffirm alliance with Saudi Arabia, claiming result in regional peace

December 18, 2022 at 9:12 am

Israeli Prime Minister-elect and Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israel [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the United States to improve and reaffirm its ties with Saudi Arabia, claiming it would help result in ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In an interview with the Saudi-owned news outlet Al Arabiya, Netanyahu said of US president Joe Biden that “I’m going to tell him that I think that there is a need for a reaffirmation of America’s commitment to its traditional allies in the Middle East. Israel, of course, is there and we’ve had a solid, unbreakable relationship.”

He added that “the alliance, the traditional alliance with Saudi Arabia and other countries, has to be reaffirmed. There should not be periodic swings, or even wild swings in this relationship, because I think that the alliance between America’s allies and with America is the anchor of stability in our region. I think it requires periodic reaffirmation and I’m to speak to President Biden about it.”

In recent months, ties between the US and Saudi Arabia grew particularly strained following the decision by the Saudi-led Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) to cut the production and output of crude oil, leading to Washington accusing Riyadh of siding with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

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As those oil cuts also represented a defiance of Biden’s plea to the kingdom in August to increase the output of crude oil, Biden vowed to impose “consequences” on the Gulf state, and senior US Senator Bob Menendez called for a freeze to all cooperation with and most arms sales to it.

Netanyahu also touched on the Abraham Accords – the series of agreements between Tel Aviv and four Arab states to normalise relations – which were conducted under his administration over the past few years with the backing of former US president Donald Trump.

While Saudi Arabia applauded the accords, it did not partake in them and refused to normalise relations with Israel until Palestinian statehood is fulfilled or the occupation is terminated. Netanyahu expressed his aim to change that and lure Riyadh into entering the accords.

“I think the peace with Saudi Arabia will serve two purposes. It will be a quantum leap for an overall peace between Israel and the Arab world. It will change our region in ways that are unimaginable. And I think it will facilitate, ultimately, a Palestinian-Israeli peace,” he claimed. “I believe in that. I intend to pursue it.”

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