1 of 3 | Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly on Friday that his country is close to normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, which could present a key shift in its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu, who is presiding over one of the most conservative governments in the country's history, made the remarks in an effort to close a four-way deal that would bring a United States-brokered normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel in exchange for Israel making concessions to the Palestinians.
"We are at the cusp of an even more dramatic and historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia," Netanyahu said in front of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. "Such a peace will go a long way to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"It will encourage other Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel. It will enhance the prospects of peace with the Palestinians."
Netanyahu said Israel's outreach to Arab states has focused on the common interests they have with each other and what he called the destabilizing activities of Iran. He said he hoped Israel would become a leader for peace in the region.
"I made the case that Israel and the Arab states have many common interests and that I believed that these many common interests could facilitate a breakthrough for a broader peace in our region," he said.
Netanyahu said while the Palestinians could play a part in the process of normalizing ties in the Arab states, they "should not have veto" power over it.
"I've long sought to make peace with the Palestinians," Netanyahu said. "The Palestinians could greatly benefit from a broader peace. I also believe that making peace with more Arab states would actually increase the prospects of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians."
Netanyahu said the potential of normalization with Saudi Arabia and peace with the Palestinians would have an impact well beyond the Middle East.
"We will not only bring down barriers between Israel and our neighbors. We'll build a new corridor of peace and prosperity that connects Asia through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, to Europe," he said. "This is an extraordinary change, a monumental change, another pilot of history."
In his speech, Netanyahu made no references to the countrywide protests over his government's weakening of the judiciary over the past months.