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Adnan Zai Discusses the Middle East Peace Deal

Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital Beachwood, always has his eyes on the international news. Recently he sat down to discuss the progress currently being made on a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Having lived in the Middle East, Adnan Zai understands firsthand the importance of a peace agreement among the countries there and has experienced the ramifications of the lack of peace.  

Mary Kraven: Thank you for joining us today to talk about a topic that I know is very near and dear to your heart. In a move that many around the world felt would never happen, Saudi Arabia and Israel are moving towards a peace agreement. With the help of the United States, under the presidency of Joe Biden, there is cautious optimism that an agreement might soon be reached, despite the complicated nature of the talks.  

Two diplomats recently told NBC News, “The United States is making progress toward a landmark agreement that would see Saudi Arabia normalize relations with Israel in exchange for a U.S. defense pact and help developing its own civilian nuclear program.”  Did you expect this to happen in your lifetime? 

Adnan Zai: Honestly, no. Historically, all of the Middle East has been taught to not give credence to Israel. But in this latest round of talks, it seems like peace could very well be on the horizon. If you watch the news at all, then you understand that Saudi Arabia is the most influential power in the Arab world. For them to finally recognize the Jewish state is a huge deal. The United States President is also coming out as a winner in this bid to bring these two nations together, who are both close US allies.  

Mary Kraven: Unfortunately, the continuing conflict between the Palestinians and Israel is still a tenuous sticking point. Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as the prime minister of Israel since December 2022, is part of the historic talks, and will not be deterred by the Palestinians’ involvement. He also doesn’t think that the Palestinians have to sign on before an agreement is reached.  

Netanyahu said the “so-called experts” predicted that peace could not be found between Israel and the rest of the Arab world. He disagreed, explaining: “They were based on one false idea—that unless we first concluded a peace agreement with the Palestinians, no other Arab state would normalise its relations with Israel. I have long sought to make peace with the Palestinians, but I also believe that we must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states.” 

Adnan Zai: Yes, you cannot allow one country to dominate the situation when it comes to the Arab world. If two countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia are in the midst of peace talks, Palestine really has no right to butt in. And the Palestinians themselves would actually benefit from a broader peace in the region.  

Mary Kraven: Netanyahu certainly seems to be on board, and the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed that the sides were growing closer.  

It would “change the Middle East forever,” Netanyahu said – bringing down “walls of enmity” and creating “a corridor of energy pipelines, rail lines, fiber optic cables, between Asia through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates.” 

Adnan Zai: The ramifications of this change are huge, and will affect the entire world. Trade, communication, and alliances will shift dramatically if this peace accord comes to fruition. And for Israel to be recognized by the powerhouse of Saudi Arabia, will affect Israel’s reputation throughout the world as well.  

Mary Kraven: That is true. The White House has been key to this, talking with Riyadh for months, trying to secure more allies against China and make connections between the two countries. Currently, Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, but with a deal like this, Israel could fast-track itself into acceptance in the Muslim world. This is especially true since Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s most holy cities.  

Adnan Zai: Last year Saudi Arabia tried to move peace forward and proposed an “Arab Peace initiative.” This initiative not only offered Israel security but also “normal relations” with 57 Arab and Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia asked that in exchange, Israel withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories. At that time, Israel rejected the offer.  

Mary Kraven: It looks like the countries are getting closer to an agreement, with bin Salman calling this “the biggest historical deal since the Cold War.” 

He also added that he hopes the deal will “reach a place that will ease the life of the Palestinians” – but he did not demand the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, which has been their official stance for over two decades. 

Adnan Zai: It certainly seems like the talks are making progress. Although I never thought this could be possible in my lifetime, I had definitely hoped that peace could be found. Netanyahu is explaining how Israel took a giant leap in 2020, establishing and normalizing relations with Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. They also have made peace with Jordan and Egypt. With the whole world watching, it seems like they are moving closer to an agreement with Saudi Arabia as well.  

Mary Kraven: Israel has big plans and if the agreement holds, it will affect the world immensely. Netanyahu also discussed the potential of AI, including in medical technologies. “I know it sounds like a John Lennon song,” he said. But he said AI is already changing the world and expressed confidence that AI will help all of humanity. He noted that Israel is among the nations leading on this front. If Israel is more accepted as a nation, their technological advances will be more utilized around the globe.  

Adnan Zai: This will be like a brave new world and I don’t think people understand all the changes that will come about if this peace agreement happens. We are ready for a whole new version of the way countries interact.  

Mary Kraven: The idea of peace in the Middle East feels unprecedented, and we appreciate you sitting to talk to us about the ramifications of this possible peace accord. We should know soon if Biden’s ideas will come true and the world will see a new coalition.  

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