JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that normalising relations with Saudi Arabia would be a “giant leap” towards ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“We want normalisation and peace with Saudi Arabia. We view that as perhaps a giant leap towards ending the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Netanyahu said, speaking during a meeting in Jerusalem with US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
“This agreement could have monumental consequences, historic consequences both for Israel, for Saudi Arabia, for the region and for the world,” Netanyahu said.
Israel has opened diplomatic ties with several Arab countries since 2020, including Saudi Arabia’s neighbours the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But Riyadh has held back from recognicing Israel, saying such moves should be tied to resolving Palestinian statehood goals.
A huge setback for Netanyahu’s efforts came last month when a China-brokered deal saw Israel’s major regional foe, Iran, mend its ties with Saudi Arabia. Iran’s embassy in Riyadh reopened its gates last Wednesday for the first time in seven years.
Separately on Monday, Israel’s foreign ministry said it had asked China to exert influence on Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“I spoke with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, about the danger we see in the Iranian nuclear programme, a danger that is shared by many countries in the region, including countries that have diplomatic relations with Iran,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in a statement.