At UN Netanyahu says Israel is at ‘cusp’ of Saudi deal, brandishes map that erases Palestine – Mondoweiss

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In his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country is on the verge of a historic peace agreement with Saudi Arabia. During his remarks, the Israeli Prime Minister also brandished a map with Palestine missing.

“There’s no question the Abraham Accords heralded the dawn of a new age of peace,” Netanyahu declared, referencing Israel’s Trump-era normalization deals with authoritarian Arab governments. “But I believe that we are at the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough, an historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia will truly create a new Middle East.”

Netanyahu claimed that such a deal would benefit the Palestinians, but added that they shouldn’t hold veto power on any potential agreements.

“To understand the magnitude of the transformation that we seek to advance, let me show you a map of the Middle East in 1948, the year Israel was established,” he told attendees.

The Prime Minister then produced a map depicting the Palestinian territories as part of Israel. “Now look at what happens when we make peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The whole Middle East changes,” he explained while flipping the card over to reveal a new map. This second image also depicted Palestine (including the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip) as part of Israel.

“Stop for a moment and ask yourself how Benjamin Netanyahu would have reacted had Mahmoud Abbas brandished a map of Greater Palestine erasing Israel while his son tweeted out support for the mass murderer of Jews,” tweeted Jerusalem-based reporter Noga Tarnopolsky.

The other major theme of Netanyahu’s address was the alleged threat posed by Iran. The Prime Minister called for further sanctions on the country and warned that their ruling “fanatics” could potentially “thwart this historic peace deal.”

Netanyahu didn’t mention his controversial judicial overhaul in the speech, despite thousands of protestors gathering outside the venue to voice their opposition to the moves.

The speech came two days after the Prime Minister held a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York City. It was the first time the two leaders had met since Netanyahu took power in Israel last December.

The location of the meeting was seen by many as a rebuke of the extreme-right Israeli government. Netanyahu has yet to be invited to The White House, and the Biden administration has publicly criticized his judicial reforms. However, Biden told reporters that the U.S. government’s commitment to Israel was “ironclad” and said he expected to see Netanyahu in Washington before the end of 2023.

Biden also touted the Saudi negotiations.

“If you and I, 10 years ago, were talking about normalization with Saudi Arabia, I think we’d look at each other like, ‘Who’s been drinking what?’” he joked to reporters.

“Maybe Irish whiskey,” replied Netanyahu, before adding, “I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And I think such a peace would go a long way for us to advance the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, achieve reconciliation between the Islamic world and the Jewish state, and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

In addition to the “pro-democracy” protestors concerned about the future of Israel, Netanyahu will also be greeted by hundreds of Palestine and anti-Zionist activists. “We’re going to be making it clear that no leaders of this government..are welcome in New York City,” Beth Miller, the Political Director for JVP Action and one of the organizers of that protest, told Democracy Now. “More importantly, that it’s time for the U.S. government to end the flow of $3.8 billion every single year to the Israeli military.”

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