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A Saudi condition for peace that Israel can’t live with

Agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state would be a setback that rewards decades of terrorism and violence
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on February 5, 2024. (Saudi foreign ministry/ X)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on February 5, 2024. (Saudi foreign ministry/ X)

In a region where the quest for peace has been as enduring as it has been elusive, the Abraham Accords emerged as a beacon of hope, charting a new course for the Middle East. By sidelining the longstanding veto power wielded by those who have perennially refused peace – notably, the Palestinian leadership – these accords have unlocked new possibilities for regional harmony, focusing on nations genuinely interested in ending decades of strife.

However, recent declarations from Saudi Arabia, conditioning normalization with Israel upon the establishment of a Palestinian state, threaten to reverse these hard-won gains. Such stipulations not only resurrect the outdated premise that the Palestinians, who have historically spurned opportunities for peace, should have veto power over the region’s progress but also risk anchoring the peace process to an unyielding deadlock.

Israel, in its unceasing pursuit of peace, cannot acquiesce to a framework that places its security and diplomatic advancements at the mercy of those who have not demonstrated a genuine commitment to peace. The suggestion that now is the opportune time to establish a Palestinian state is not only premature but perilously flawed. Rewarding decades of terrorism and violence, culminating in the horrific October 7th massacre, with the ultimate diplomatic prize – statehood – would send a dangerous message, not only to the region but to the entire world. It would validate the abhorrent notion that terror begets territorial gains, thereby undermining the very foundations of international law and order.

To endorse the creation of a Palestinian state in response to the appalling events of October 7th would be a historic misstep. Such an act would not only embolden extremists but would also insinuate that massacres and mayhem are legitimate means to political ends. This is not a precedent we can afford to set. It is a direct affront to the values of peace and justice that the free world stands for.

Israel’s commitment to expanding the circle of peace remains unwavering. The nation’s aspiration for normalization with its neighbors is rooted in a desire for a stable and prosperous region. However, this ambition is not blind to the costs it may entail. A peace and normalization process that erodes rather than advances the cause of regional stability is unacceptable. Israel stands ready to embrace genuine peace, but not at the expense of its security and democratic principles.

The way forward must be paved with mutual respect, recognition, and a shared commitment to a future where all peoples of the region can thrive. The Abraham Accords have shown us that such a future is possible when nations unite with a common purpose, transcending the divisions of the past. Since their inception, the Abraham Accords have catalyzed a wave of unprecedented cooperation across various domains. Notably, they spurred significant advancements in economic collaborations, with bilateral trade agreements laying the groundwork for a prosperous economic future. The Accords have fostered cultural exchanges, enriching the social fabric of the signatory nations. Moreover, strides in environmental cooperation have underscored a collective commitment to sustainable development, addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing the region. Let us not be swayed by those who seek to derail this progress through demands that serve only to perpetuate conflict and division.

The international community must recognize that true peace cannot be coerced by those who have shown little interest in genuine negotiation. Instead, we should build on the momentum of the Abraham Accords, fostering a climate where peace can flourish on the basis of mutual benefit, respect, and understanding.

Israel’s rejection of a step backward would not be a rejection of peace but a reaffirmation of its dedication to a sustainable and just resolution. The path to peace is through constructive engagement and realistic compromises, not through concessions to violence or terrorism. As we stand at this critical juncture, the choices we make will define the legacy of our time. Let us choose a path that leads to lasting peace and stability, reinforcing the notion that diplomacy and dialogue are the most potent weapons in our arsenal for achieving a better world.

About the Author
MK Dan Illouz (Likud) is a member of the Foreign Affairs committee and the chairman of the Knesset’s Abraham Accords Caucus.
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