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Can Netanyahu deliver US, Saudi demands for normalization with Israel?

Although advancing talks with the Saudis on normalized relations with Israel, the Biden administration doubts whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can persuade his hard-line coalition to agree to significant steps vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
US President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly meeting in New York City, September 20, 2023.

NEW YORK — A time traveler landing at the Al-Monitor/Semafor Middle East Global Summit in New York City last Wednesday would have been astonished to see the emergence of the “New Middle East” envisioned by the late Israeli foreign minister, prime minister and president Shimon Peres. 

Gone and forgotten were the “three no's” of the 1967 Arab League Khartoum Resolution — no peace with Israel, no negotiation with Israel, no recognition of Israel. These have now been replaced by a thirst for cooperation with Israel, for negotiations on free trade zones, global gas pipelines, and new alliances and leverages.

This reversal was clearly reflected by the impressive conference lineup — Jordan's King Abdullah, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar, Anwar Gargash, senior advisor to UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed, Qatari presidential adviser Majed Al-Ansari, senior Biden administration officials Amos Hochstein and Barbara Leaf, and many other top officials.

Most of the significant players in the Middle East, with the exception of Iran, have long accepted Israel's existence — some openly, others only behind closed doors. The only war discussed at the Al-Monitor/Semafor event, held on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting, was the fight against the disastrous effects of climate change. Conference guests talked about cooperation, maximizing the resources shared by the peoples of the region, achieving welfare and prosperity and extending a hand for peace in all directions. 

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