Revolution occurring in Israel’s relations…

Revolution occurring in Israel’s relations with Arab states: Netanyahu

Jerusalem, July 14 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel is undergoing a “revolution” in its relations with Arab states in the region.

Speaking at a military graduate ceremony in the National Security College on Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said that Israel is witnessing a “revolution in relations with important Arab states”, adding the normalisation can, in its turn, push forward a peace deal with the Palestinians, Xinhua reported.

“The Arab countries realise now that Israel is not an enemy but an ally against the threat of Islamist extremism,” the prime minister said, according to a statement from his office.

He had also said that unlike the common view up until now, suggesting a peace deal with the Palestinians would advance normalisation with Arab states, the order can be reversed.

“We have always said that the moment we reach peace with the Palestinians, we will be able to achieve peaceful relations with the entire Arab world… but I have grown to think this process could also run in the opposite direction,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister had mentioned the close relationship Israel maintains with two of its neighboring Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

The international community had recently stepped up the pressure on Israel to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, based on the two-state solution. The last round of peace talks between the parties fell apart in April 2014 without results.

The pressure comes amid a 10-month-long wave of violence which had claimed the lives of 34 Israelis and 216 Palestinians.

France had introduced in January its plan to hold an international conference later this year in order to restart peace talks between the parties, with the assistance of the international community.

While Palestinians lauded the initiative, Israel rejected it. Israeli leaders claim international forums would allow Palestinians to refrain from direct talks with Israel.

Netanyahu and other officials have instead reiterated the importance of restarting the peace talks with the active help of Arab states in the region, with Egypt playing a prominent role.

In May, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said there’s a “real chance” to resume peace talks and achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, with the mediation of Arab countries. Netanyahu and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman repeatedly lauded the comments since.

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