Ex-Foreign Minister: 'Give Up On Saudi Normalization If Price Is A PA State'

By Arutz-7
Posted on 02/28/24 | News Source: Arutz-7

Energy Minister Eli Cohen (Likud), who until recently served as Israel's Foreign Minister, believes that Israel should oppose in the strongest possible way any step that would lead to the recognition or establishment of a Palestinian state.

"The United States is a great friend of Israel and we have seen this throughout the war. At the same time, even among friends, there are also different opinions. The Biden administration believes in the two-state solution, and we tell them, especially after October 7, that a Palestinian state will not be established. Just as no one thought of giving a state to Al Qaeda after September 11, it is impossible to offer a state to the Palestinians after October 7. We have no intention of establishing another Hamastan in Judea and Samaria," Cohen said in an interview with Arutz Sheva - Israel National News.

He added that "if the price for the expansion of regional peace agreements is the establishment of a Palestinian state, I [say to] give up the expansion [of the Abraham Accords] and the normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia. As someone who knows foreign relations, I say that it is possible to bring a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia without the establishment of a state and it is first and foremost in the Saudi interest."

Minister Cohen noted with satisfaction the significant international support for Israel since the Hamas massacre and throughout the war. "We have never seen an outpouring of such significant support as we had here after October 7. Most of the free, enlightened, Western, and liberal world supports the elimination of Hamas in a significant way. Even the Arab countries next to us, although they cannot say it openly, support in a substantial way the elimination of Hamas, because the same branches of Iran that threaten us also threaten them."

When asked how Israel should deal with the UNRWA organization, Cohen replied that in his opinion, Israel should act against the organization and find alternative ways to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza. "UNRWA needs to be stopped, not only in Gaza, but also in Judea and Samaria. UNRWA, which serves as an executive arm of Hamas, needs to collapse and disappear. I am happy to see that this is beginning to be understood."

"Regarding the humanitarian aid - we need to examine whether it serves the goals of the war. The security officials point out that the humanitarian aid, which of course should be given sparingly, helps us by allowing the war to last longer. We are also examining the possibility that the aid will be given directly by the Israeli security officials - in place of UNRWA," he added.

On the negotiations to secure a deal to free the hostages being held in Gaza, he said, "We won't go into all the details, but the basic issue is that there will be no ceasefire. We are of course working to return the hostages, we have a commitment, we will turn over every stone, both on the political side, also in discussions, also by involving all the factors that can assist in the return of the hostages and we will also act operationally. There is an operational, security, and political determination to act and return them - but not at any cost."

He listed his main achievements at the Foreign Ministry. "During the period in which I served as Foreign Minister, five more countries joined [the US] and agreed to move their embassies to Jerusalem, and one of them has already opened it in practice, the visa arrangement with the US was signed, flights over Oman were opened, crises with Poland and Serbia ended, and more. I worked for months so that during the war there would be very important international support for Israel."