Israel’s Netanyahu urges Biden to ‘reaffirm’ US-Saudi ties

Mr Netanyahu’s comments show the Saudis that he can help ease the strain with Washington.  PHOTO: NYTIMES

TEL AVIV – Benjamin Netanyahu, expected to become Israel’s prime minister, told a Saudi media organisation that President Joe Biden should reaffirm the US’ relationship with Saudi Arabia. 

“I think that the alliance, the traditional alliance, with Saudi Arabia and other countries, has to be reaffirmed,” he said, in an interview with Al Arabiya, which is backed by Saudi Arabia.

“There should not be periodic swings or even wild swings in this relationship.”

“The alliance between America’s allies and with America is the anchor of stability in our region, and I think it requires periodic reaffirmation, and I hope to speak to President Biden about it,” he said.

Israeli officials are not often interviewed by Saudi media since the two countries do not have diplomatic relations.

Mr Netanyahu’s comments show a willingness on his part to wade into the dispute over oil between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia and to show the Saudis that he can help ease the strain with Washington.

Mr Netanyahu, 73, is in advanced talks with far-right and religious parties to return as Israel’s prime minister after 18 months in opposition.

One of his key foreign policy objectives is to expand Israel’s relations in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, partly to combat Iran. Saudi officials publicly insist that first there must be a resolution to the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  

In the interview, Mr Netanyahu said achieving peace with Saudi Arabia could mark a “quantum leap” in relations, and would actually advance peace with the Palestinians by convincing Palestinian leaders “to adopt a different attitude towards accepting the State of Israel.” 

“I think we can end the Arab-Israeli conflict and achieve peace with the Palestinians, we just have to be creative about it,” he said. BLOOMBERG

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