Abdullah need not go to Jerusalem, as Anwar Sadat did, or recognize Israel. He can, though, still have a huge impact on the process by simply handing his plan to the leader for whose country it was intended. I can’t think of anything that would get these peace talks off to a better start. It feels to me as though Netanyahu is taking this moment seriously, but he is still very wary. By handing him the Abdullah plan, the Saudi monarch would unleash a huge peace debate in Israel. It would make it more difficult for Netanyahu to continue settlement building — and spur an Israeli public that is also still wary to urge Netanyahu to take risks for peace and support him for doing so. Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader today who can deliver a deal.
The Saudis can’t just keep faxing their peace initiative to Israelis. That has no emotional punch. It actually says to Israelis: if the Saudis are afraid to hand us their plan, why should we believe they’ll have the courage to implement it if we do everything they suggest? Israelis are isolated. Seeing their prime minister received by the most important Muslim leader in the world in Riyadh would have a real impact.