Benjamin Netanyahu claims closer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia

Benjamin Netanyahu claims closer ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia
The comments came alongside those of Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who stated yesterday that 'the Palestinian issue will not be an obstacle to peace'.
2 min read
07 August, 2023
Normalisation efforts between Israel and Saudi Arabia have been spurred on by the US [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed he is confident ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia will be strengthened, even if the two countries do not normalise relations.

Netanyahu told Bloomberg that the economic relationship between the two countries would continue "whether we have a formal peace or not".

"There is an economic corridor of energy, transport and communications that naturally goes through our geography," he claimed, saying that Europe and Asia were connected via Israel and Saudi Arabia and that this made further cooperation necessary.

US President Joe Biden's administration has pushed for a normalisation between the two countries with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan visiting the region last month to discuss the issue.

Despite this, the two countries are no closer to establishing diplomatic ties, with normalisation a controversial issue in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh demanding the establishment of a Palestinian state before recognising Israel.

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Netanyahu has dismissed the prospect of an independent Palestinian state claiming any peace agreement must give Israel "overriding security power in the entire area – ours and theirs".

He also claimed the issue of a Palestinian state is just a "checkbox" that needed to be ticked to further negotiations and was being discussed "a lot less than you think".

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has also claimed that "the Palestinian issue will not be an obstacle to peace" with Saudi Arabia, adding that it wasn't an issue in the Abraham Accords agreed with Morocco, Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan.

Cohen has previously stated that Israel's consent was not needed for Saudi Arabia to establish a civilian nuclear programme, another sticking point in Saudi-Israel relations. 

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Despite the stalled normalisation process, economic and security ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel have grown, amid anger in the Arab world.

Israeli firm SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. and Saudi firm Aklan & Bros Holding recently signed a joint venture aimed at developing Riyadh's solar energy infrastructure.

Last month, Axios reported that Saudi Arabia is set to green light Israeli representatives entering the country for a UNESCO conference in Riyadh this September.

The decision, which hasn't been confirmed, would follow the unprecedented step of an Israeli eFootball team competing in the FIFAe World Cup in Riyadh last July.