US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Iran at a joint news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan that “time is running out” for Tehran to reach a nuclear deal with world powers.
Speaking to reporters in Washington DC, Blinken said “We are getting closer to the point at which returning to the JCPOA will not recapture the benefits of the JCPOA,” he said, noting Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, its construction of more advanced centrifuges and its race towards improved nuclear technology.
The United States, he said, prefers diplomacy to return Iran to a peaceful path, but stressed “the runway is getting shorter.” He added that the US is “prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn’t change course.”
On Abraham Accords, Israeli-Palestinian Authority Relations
The United States “strongly supports” the efforts and accomplishments of the previous administration in creating the Abraham Accords, Blinken said, and will work towards expanding the newly developed circle of peace that resulted.
“We believe that normalization can and should be a force for progress, not only between Israel and Arab countries and other countries in the region and beyond, but also between Israelis and Palestinians.
“As President Biden said, Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, democracy.
“The President’s also been clear that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable, sovereign and democratic Palestinian state.”
New Working Groups
The three countries discussed two new working groups, to be launched together.
The first group is on religious co-existence. “This is a moment of rising antisemitism,” Blinken noted, “rising Islamophobia, and we want Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States to work together to build tolerance and ensure that all religious groups can worship in their traditional ways, without violence, without intimidation, without discrimination,” he said.
The second working group is on water and energy, “critical issues for our countries in the fact of the climate crisis. In places where the United States, Israel, the UAE can be in a sense greater than the sum of our parts, to the benefit of our people, the region and even the world,” Blinken said.
Israel and the UAE are already planning to collaborate on a number of renewable energy projects, he said.
“Finally, the trilateral partnership also makes it possible for our countries to discuss other urgent regional issues more effectively, do it together.”
During the meeting, Blinken said the three partners talked about “a range of regional security issues, including Iran, Syria, Ethiopia – that’s what normalization has made possible.”
Lapid: ‘Iran Wants to Wipe Us Out. We Won’t Let That Happen.’
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid underlined the friendship that has developed with his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and said, “This partnership isn’t just between Jews and Arabs, but between citizens of the world who want to be partners in the fight against climate change, against poverty, against the pandemic that has claimed millions of lives.
“President Kennedy said, ‘All people are entitled to a decent way of life,’” Lapid said. “This includes of course the Palestinians. Our goal is to work with the Palestinian Authority to ensure that every child has that opportunity.
But at the center of his visit, Lapid said, was the “concern about Iran’s race to a nuclear capability. Iran is becoming a nuclear threshold state. Every day that passes, every delay in the negotiations, brings Iran closer to a nuclear bomb.
“The Iranians are clearly dragging their heels, trying to cheat the world, to continue to enrich uranium, to develop their ballistic missile program.
“Secretary of State Blinken and I are sons of Holocaust survivors,” Lapid pointed out. “We know there are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil.
“If a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act. We must make clear that the civilized world won’t allow it. If the Iranians don’t believe the world is serious about stopping them, they’ll race to the bomb.
“Israel reserves the right to act at any given moment, in any way. That is not only our right, it is also our responsibility. Iran has publicly stated it wants to wipe us out. We have no intention of letting that happen,” Lapid underlined.
Bin Zayed: ‘Cannot Talk About Peace Without the Neighbors’
“The Palestinians are going to be the most important element of the success of peace in the region,” the UAE foreign minister said. “We cannot just talk about peace in the region without the neighbors.
“The Palestinians and the Israelis are not on talking terms to start with, so I’m quite excited to see that in the last few weeks Israeli ministers are starting to meet with the PA. This is a good start.
“We have to keep encouraging them but also broadening the opportunities for them,” he added.