by: Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 13 October 2021 | The first day of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s three-day trip to the US unfolded much as expected: with a focus on securing bipartisan support for Israel and, of course, Iran, underscoring the need for an alternative to the US reentering the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers.
Israel’s top diplomat spent the day rubbing shoulders with senior officials of the Biden administration, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He used the opportunity to highlight Israel’s grave concern over “Iran’s race towards nuclear capability, and the fact that Iran is becoming a nuclear threshold state,” Lapid’s office said in a statement.
According to the Times of Israel, Lapid’s uncharacteristically strong statement—uttered during his meeting with Sullivan and later reiterated during a meeting with Congressional leaders headed by Pelosi—echoes a stark warning by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the UN General Assembly last month that Tehran’s nuclear program is at a “watershed moment.”
In his meeting with Harris, Lapid conceded that Israel and the US might not see eye-to-eye on all things. However, “even when we have differences, I know that our goal is common, which is to see Israel strong, secure, and thriving.”
Another thing Israel and the US differ on is how exactly a “strong, secure, and thriving” Israel will be secured—most notably where Iran is concerned.
US President Joe Biden is a proponent for a return to the 2015 accord, while Israel advocates strongly against such a move. The return talks have been at an impasse since the election of Iran’s ultra conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in June, but those in the know say that the seventh round of talks may resume as early as later this month in the Austrian capital.
Despite Israel’s warnings that Iran might be dangerously close to the nuclear finish and Lapid’s call on Sullivan for the “need for an alternative plan” to resuming the accord, the US remains committed to exhausting diplomatic channels before pursuing alternative measures of stymieing Tehran’s dash for nuclear breakout status.
Biden’s security advisor did, however, assure Lapid of the commander-in-chief’s “commitment to ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon,” but failed to elaborate on how the president aims to make good on that promise.
According to a readout of the Lapid–Sullivan meeting, “the United States and Israel will continue to consult closely on Iran…”
Although Iran was the “center” of Lapid’s visit, Israel’s top diplomat also took the time to discuss a number of other issues, including securing strong bipartisan support for Israel in the US.
During a meeting with senior bipartisan lawmakers headed by Pelosi, Lapid noted that he planned on working specifically to strengthen support for the Jewish state among younger Americans.
The itinerary for the remainder of Lapid’s visit includes a get-together with American Jewish leaders and a trilateral meeting with Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed before heading home to Israel tomorrow.
Posted on October 13, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 13, 2021)
Photo Credit: The White House/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
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