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MBS VST ISR

Israelis need a dose of love to counteract October 7th’s explosion of violent hatred.  As Secretary of State Blinken tours the region and rumors continue to swirl about Saudi Arabia’s potential recognition of Israel, the situation in Israel merits a grand gesture on the part of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on the scale of Sadat’s visit so long ago.

Israelis have long been polarized between those who advocate two states and those who favor a greater Israel.  Since the failure of the Oslo process, the debate has been largely theoretical and, while negotiations faltered, the settlements proliferated, the occupation continued, and both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered.

Were MBS to come to the Knesset and lay out Saudi Arabia’s terms for peace—basically a retooling of previous Arab League proposals sweetened with American promises of various kinds of aid—I believe that Israeli public opinion would tilt towards taking the opportunity for Arab recognition of and peace with Israel in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state, borders to be determined.

Israeli political parties would have to decide, once and for all, where they would stand on this no-longer-theoretical issue.  Israeli voters would have a clear choice between those parties who want land over peace and those who want to pursue peace over settlements and the continued domination of the Palestinian people.

Rather than operating behind closed doors and presenting Israel privately with a Saudi peace proposal via Secretary of State Blinken, a visit to the Knesset by MBS would demonstrate, much as Sadat did both by his presence and his words, the Arab world’s potential embrace of Israel.  Such a gesture could help heal the trauma caused by Hamas’ attack, help break the deadlock of the Israeli electorate, and incline Israelis and Palestinians on the slippery road to peace.

About the Author
Anson Laytner is a happily retired liberal rabbi whose career focused on building positive interfaith and interethnic relations in the Seattle area. As a volunteer, Laytner is president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and has edited its journal, Points East, for the last 38 years. He is the author of six books, most recently “Choosing Life After Tragedy” and the novel "The Forgotten Commandment." Visit him as his website www.ansonlaytner.com.