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Will Israel’s opposition back Netanyahu on Saudi peace deal?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that his far-right coalition partners oppose a Saudi deal requiring concessions to the Palestinians, but can he gain the support of the opposition instead?
Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz (L) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid attend a preliminary vote on a bill to dissolve parliament and call an early election at the Knesset, Jerusalem on June 22, 2022.

TEL AVIV — Leaders of Israel’s opposition indicated earlier this month that they would support a deal on normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia if the agreement served and preserved the country’s national and security interests. Their statements came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struggled with his coalition partners who have repeatedly said that they would not agree to make significant concessions to the Palestinians even if it cost Israel the Saudi deal. 

The myriad obstacles in the way of an Israeli-Saudi peace agreement have not deterred the wanderlust of the Israeli officials who have already embarked on a succession of visits to the desert kingdom. This week it was Tourism Minister Haim Katz, who became the first member of an Israeli government to openly visit Saudi Arabia. 

Participating in an international tourism conference, Katz arrived in Riyadh to a warm Saudi welcome. Next week, two members of Netanyahu’s Likud — Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, also a close Netanyahu ally, and Knesset member David Bitan — are scheduled to visit for a conference by the Universal Postal Union. Negotiations aside, the historic normalization of relations between the Jewish state and the Arab world’s leading power is already a de facto affair.

This week, Saudi Arabia’s first envoy to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Ambassador Nayef al-Sudairi, presented his credentials to PA President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. 

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