After meeting U.S. President Joe Biden and some world leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on Friday, address the UN General Assembly for the first time since 2018. His speech will concentrate on the opportunity for a historic peace agreement with Saudi Arabia on the one hand and the threat to Israel, the Middle East and the world from Iran on the other.
Netanyahu will also address the turmoil in Israel, over his government's legislative push to change the judicial system, a move that has seen hundreds of thousands of Israelis take to the streets in mass protests for the past nine months demonstrating against what they see as an assault on Israel's very democracy, and has even brought protests to the United States during the prime minister's visit there.
The prime minister's speech comes after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said in an interview that the possibility of a peace deal with Israel was getting closer by the day. That comment was received in Israel with surprise, but officials were less pleased when the Saudi prince said that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, he too will seek them for his country, announcing a Middle East nuclear arms race.
Bin Salman also said an agreement could only be reached if the interests of the Palestinians are addressed. "We have to see where we are going. We hope the deal with ease the lives of Palestinians and position Israel as a player in the region," he said adding that he would work with any Israeli leader.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN on Thursday and said no peace deal can ignore the rights of Palestinians. He called on the international body to implement even just one of the many resolutions it had passed to end the Israeli occupation and said the Palestinians need UN protection from the occupation forces.