Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that peace with Saudi Arabia would truly create a new Middle East and bring the Jewish and Muslim religions closer together. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu said the people in the region face a choice between a blessing and a curse, as in the biblical story of Moses speaking to the people of Israel.
The choice will determine whether we enjoy the blessings of a historic peace, of boundless prosperity and hope of suffering the curse of a horrific war of terrorism and despair, from the tyrants of Iran. He quoted a speech he made at his last address to the same international body five years ago, when he said that the dangers posed by Iran could bring Israel and the Arab states would have common interests that would bring them together.
He said his optimism was dismissed, pushed aside by failed peacemaking because they were based on the false notion that unless there was first peace with the Palestinians, no Arab state would agree to peace with Israel.
Netanyahu addressed a nearly empty hall after most of the participants of the General Assembly had already left New York but one representative of the Saudi Arabian delegation was present during his speach. He was accompanied by his wife and a number of ministers who stood up and clapped a number of times during his speech.
He said the Palestinians must not be given a veto over new peace treaties with Arab States. He said peace with Arabs would increase the prospects of an agreement with the Palestinians. "The Palestinians are only 2% of the Arab world," he said. "When they see that most of the Arab world has reconciled itself to the Jewish state, they too will be more likely to abandon the fantasy of destroying Israel and finally embrace a path of genuine peace with it."
The prime minister said that now as a circle of peace expands, peace with the Palestinians can be achieved but only if it is based on truth and not on lies and the vilification of Jews. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must stop spreading antisemitic conspiracies against Israel and the Palestinian Authority must stop its pay-to-slay policy of giving money to terrorists who murder Jews. He said antisemitism must be rejected, wherever it appears, whether from the left or the right, in universities or the halls of the UN.
He warned that Iran will attempt to thwart the budding peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel but told the international body that the regime's aggression is met with indifference. "To stop Iran's nuclear ambitions this policy must change. Sanctions must be snapped back and above all Iran must face a credible nuclear threat," he said adding that he would do all he could to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capability. The Prime Minister's office later clarified that Netanyahu meant to say a credible military threat and not a nuclear one.
Netanyahu said that the world must ensure that the promise of an AI utopia does not turn into a dystopia and promised that Israel would be among the countries spearheading AI which could help all humanity. He called on world leaders to shape the changes brought by AI for the benefit of humanity.
Missing from his speech was any mention of the turmoil engulfing Israel since his government announced the judicial legislation that is seen by many of its opponents, as an assault on Israel's very democracy. The protests that had brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis to the streets for the past nine months, and which followed Netanyahu to New York, were a part of the discussion Netanyahu had with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Hundreds of protesters stood outside the UN while the prime minister was speaking and held a prayer for peace. at the same time, dozens demonstrated in support of the Israeli prime minister.