Photo Credit: Shlomi Amsalem / GPO
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is greeted by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Sept. 9, 2021

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow to discuss a wide range of diplomatic and security issues — including Iran’s escalating drive towards achieving creation of a nuclear weapon.

Lapid began his remarks, however, by noting that 76 years ago, his father was a 13-year-old child in the Budapest Ghetto and was “destined to die.

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“Then one day, he heard people speaking a language he didn’t understand. My grandmother, who was with him, suddenly lifted her head and said, ‘It’s Russian. It’s the Russians, they have arrived. We are saved.’

“Three years later, the people of Russia supported the creation of the State of Israel. We owe you. And we are a people with a long memory,” Lapid noted.

He thanked Lavrov for “the warm welcome” and thanked President Vladimir Putin for “his friendship and leadership.”

The foreign minister pointed out that Russia is one of Israel’s “most significant and important partners,” noting that Israel and Russia have “strong and deep ties” in economics, culture, tourism, energy and science.

There are more than a million Russian speakers living in Israel, he noted. “One of them is our Minister of Tourism, Yoel Kostia Razbozov, who is here with us.”

The two men discussed ways to “strengthen and deepen the relations” between Israel’s new government and the Russian government, he said.

But Lapid said that although “we all aspire to bring security and stability in our region and to the world,” there will be stability in Syria, or in the wider Middle East, while there is an Iranian presence.

“Iran is the world’s number one exporter of terror,” Lapid said. “It threatens us all.

“Israel will not sit quietly by, while Iran builds terror bases on our northern border – or while Iran supplies advanced weapons to terror organizations; weapons intended to be used against us.”

The Israeli diplomat warned that the Jewish State “will maintain our ability to defend ourselves in the face of threats from Syria and elsewhere” and said that he and Lavrov had also discussed the Iranian nuclear program and “the danger it poses to the entire world.”

Lapid noted that the two most recent reports by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “are damning.

“They include serious violations,” he said. “Fraud, deception and outright lies. The picture is clear and very worrying.”

The message to Iran must be loud and “it must be clear,” Lapid underlined. “Iran’s march towards a nuclear weapon is not only an Israeli problem, it’s a problem for the entire world. . .And the last thing any of us want is to see nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands.”

The world needs to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability, Lapid said, “no matter the price. If the world doesn’t do it, Israel reserves the right to act.

“The Iranians have never hidden the fact that they want to destroy Israel. That is an existential threat for us.

“Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state – or even a nuclear threshold state.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.