Far-right MKs said to agree not to impede Netanyahu efforts to normalize with Saudis
Riyadh has at times signaled openness to improving ties, but has also said a solution to the Palestinian issue was necessary first
The far-right elements of Israel’s incoming government have agreed not to hinder any efforts by incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reach a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia, according to a Saturday report.
Such a deal has been one of Netanyahu’s greatest goals since signing the historic Abraham Accords with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in September 2020, as he has stated several times since.
While Morocco and Sudan also joined the accords later, Saudi Arabia has been reluctant.
The Saudis have been widely reported to maintain clandestine ties with Jerusalem. Though Netanyahu himself is reported to have flown to the country in secret to meet with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Riyadh has continued to insist publicly that a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians was a “requirement” for any normalization agreement.
Still, Netanyahu is optimistic that such a deal can be reached with the Gulf state and his political partners understand this, according to Channel 12.
The report said there was an understanding between Netanyahu and far-right lawmakers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to not sabotage any effort to normalize relations with the Saudis.
As one example, the unsourced report cited the vague wording of Netanyahu’s agreement in principle to advance annexation of West Bank land as part of the coalition deal with Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party.
The agreement was worded in a way that could allow Netanyahu to make no movement on the issue if he chooses. And the report said Smotrich understands that such a scenario is dependent on US approval, which would only be feasible under a Republican president. It hinted he may remain quiet on the matter for the time being to allow Netanyahu to make overtures to Riyadh.
A second example given was Ben Gvir’s statement that though he wants to advance bills providing security forces with immunity from prosecution and looser open-fire rules, he has also agreed to adhere to international law — another apparent agreement not to rock the boat.
The report also claimed the far-rightists won’t overly push “planting the Israeli flag on the Temple Mount,” despite their fiery language on Israeli rights to the compound.
Earlier this month, Likud MK Danny Danon told an international Abraham Accords forum that he expects to “see an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the coming year.”
Danon, a former envoy to the UN, told The Times of Israel that his assessment is “based on conversations and talks” he has had recently, but would not refer to a specific effort underway.
Lazar Berman and Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.