Opposition leader Yair Lapid said a normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia would be a welcome development but Israel must never agree to Saud development of nuclear capabilities or of uranium enrichment in the Gulf Kingdom. Lapid said in a social media post that the cost of an Israeli-Saudi deal cannot be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Lapid referred to an interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Fox late on Wednesday, in which he said that if Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would have to do the same. The United States is negotiating an agreement that would include Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel.
Lapid said in his post that efforts to obtain nuclear weapons by mid-east nations is what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spent his life fighting against and that that is the basis of Israel's nuclear strategy. "Stong democracies do not dessert their security, for political considerations," he said.
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, reported an effort to set up a U.S.-run uranium-enrichment operation in Saudi Arabia as part of a complex three-way deal to establish official diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern countries, quoting Israeli and American officials.
The paper said Netanyahu had directed top Israeli nuclear and security specialists to cooperate with U.S. negotiators trying to reach a deal that would allow Saudi Arabia to become the second country in the Middle East, after Iran, to openly enrich uranium.
“Israeli support for Saudi enrichment would represent a radical policy shift for a country that has opposed nuclear proliferation in the Middle East since inception, and for a prime minister who has devoted his career to opposing Iranian enrichment,” Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank in Washington that opposes the idea, told the paper.
According to the report, the matter was discussed when U.S. President Joe Biden met Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, their first meeting since Netanyahu returned to office, nine months ago.