September 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Netanyahu Hails Prospects for Normalization Between Israel and Saudi Arabia  

September 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Netanyahu Hails Prospects for Normalization Between Israel and Saudi Arabia  

Latest Developments 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on September 22 that prospects for normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia were “at the cusp” of a dramatic breakthrough. “Now look at what happens when we make peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The whole Middle East changes,” said Netanyahu in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. “We tear down the walls of enmity. We bring the possibility of prosperity and peace to this entire region.” 

Expert Analysis 

“The pathways to peace in the Middle East run through Jerusalem and Riyadh. There’s no doubt that an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, backed by Washington, will have enormous benefits for everyone. But it can’t come at the expense of stopping nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. The United States and Europeans need to snap back UN sanctions on Iran to establish zero enrichment as the international gold standard. America and Israel need a serious military threat and combined action to roll back the Iranian atomic weapons program. And the Saudis can have a civilian nuclear program where, like many European and Asian countries, they can buy their nuclear fuel from abroad.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO 

“The prime minister’s speech clearly stated what Israeli priorities are: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state and promoting a Saudi-American-Israeli deal that will include normalization. It is possible to overcome the problematic Saudi demand for an independent fuel cycle by having the United States insist on a full snapback of sanctions on Iran and not allowing Tehran to enrich uranium at all. This will pull the rug out from under Saudi demands, allowing the deals to move forward without a nuclear threat from Saudi Arabia, and create an opening for joint action against the Iranian nuclear program.” Jacob Nagel, FDD Senior Fellow 

Calls for No Palestinian Veto on Normalization 

In recent months, Biden administration officials have shuttled between Jerusalem and Riyadh to discuss Saudi terms for normalization. At the same time, American officials have sought to insert the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the negotiations, claiming that normalization cannot occur without Palestinian buy-in. 

In his UN speech, Netanyahu called this tactic a “false idea,” stating that the two percent of the Arab world who are Palestinians should not have a veto over the other 98 percent. Under the approach of experts who prioritized Palestinian demands, said Netanyahu, “we didn’t forge a single peace treaty for a quarter century.” Rather, peace with more Arab states — whether Palestinians support it or not — would “increase the prospects of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” 

UN Must Snap Back Iran Sanctions  

Netanyahu said that a driving force behind normalization for both Jews and Arabs is to protect the Middle East from Iran’s destabilizing actions, including its regime’s sponsorship of terror, murder of its own citizens, threats to international shipping lanes, holding foreign nationals for ransom, and engaging in nuclear blackmail.  

Netanyahu called on the UN to uphold the provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that allow for a snapback of sanctions if Tehran violates the agreement. “Well, Iran is violating the deal,” Netanyahu said, “but the sanctions have not been snapped back to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This policy must change. Sanctions must be snapped back.” 

Three Years On, Secretary of State Complicates Abraham Accords Expansion,” FDD Flash Brief 

Saudi-Israeli peace is no pipe dream,” by Haisam Hassanein 

Can Saudi normalization with Israel hurt Palestinians?” by Hussain Abdul-Hussain 


Gulf States Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Israel