Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has stated that “six or seven” Muslim countries could “make peace” with Israel if it signed a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia, according to a report.
The Jerusalem Post said that Cohen made the remarks while speaking to Kan News following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
The publication quoted Cohen as saying that “peace with Saudi Arabia means peace with the greater Muslim world”.
“There are at least another six or seven countries that I have met with —significant Muslim countries with which we do not have relations — that are interested [in peace],” the minister said.
According to the report, Cohen said the countries were in Africa and Asia but declined to name them. He later said that only some had been directly in touch with him.
US President Joe Biden is hoping to transform the Middle East — and score an election-year diplomatic victory — by securing recognition of the Jewish state by Saudi Arabia.
In his speech at the UNGA, Netanyahu said he believed his country was on the cusp of peace with Saudi Arabia, predicting it could be clinched by Biden and reshape the Middle East.
Yet, amid urging by Riyadh and Washington that the Palestinians be included in the diplomacy, Netanyahu said that Palestinians should not be allowed to veto the regional dealmaking.
Last week, Netanyahu said the ambitious US-backed deal to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia was possible, as he met Biden in New York.
Saudi Arabia has been one of the biggest backers of the Palestinian cause and has repeatedly stated that it needed to see a Palestinian state before taking up normalisation with Israel.
Washington has been pressing its traditional ally Riyadh to sign a normalisation deal with Israel, which would be its biggest diplomatic win in the region, following similar agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, known as the Abraham Accords.
Additional input from AFP and Reuters