The Saudi peace initiative of 2002 is no longer relevant in the much-altered Middle East of 2014, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu indicated this week, in a Rosh Hashana interview with The Jerusalem Post that will appear in full in Wednesday’s paper.
“The question is not the Saudi peace initiative,” Netanyahu said, asked if he would accept the proposal now.
“If you read it carefully, you’ll see it was set up in another period, before the rise of Hamas; before Hamas took over Gaza; before ISIS [Islamic State] took over chunks of Syria and Iraq, effectively dismantling those countries; before Iran’s accelerated nuclear program,” he said.
Obviously referring to the Saudi proposal’s call for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre- 1967 lines, including returning the Golan Heights to Syria, Netanyahu noted that this plan was made “before the takeover of Syria by al-Qaida on the Golan Heights.”
Asked whether he thinks the initiative is now irrelevant, he replied, “What is relevant is the fact that there is a new recognition among major countries in the Middle East that Israel is not their mortal enemy, to say the least, but is a potential ally in addressing the common challenges.”