Photo Credit: Shlomi Amsalem/GPO
Israel FM Yair Lapid and US VP Kamala Harris. oct. 12, 2021

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid began his diplomatic visit to Washington on Tuesday where he met with Vice President Kamala Harris, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as the US seeks to reengage Iran in talks on its nuclear program and Israel warns that it is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons.

With NSA Sullivan, Lapid discussed “various security issues, most notably the threat posed by Iran.”

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Lapid shared with Sullivan’s Israel’s “concern about Iran’s race towards nuclear capability, and the fact that Iran is becoming a nuclear threshold state,” and pushed for an alternative plan to the nuclear agreement, which the Biden administration is seeking to revitalize, and which Israel believes will not deny Iran a nuclear bomb.

Sullivan “highlighted the unwavering support of the United States for Israel’s security and emphasized the US commitment to strengthening all aspects of the partnership between the two countries.”

He further reaffirmed President Joe Biden’s “commitment to ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon.” They agreed that the US and Israel will “continue to consult closely on Iran and other critical matters impacting the security and stability of the region.”

They also discussed a plan for the Gaza Strip titled “Economy for Security,” presented last month by Lapid, which offers economic growth for the Strip in return for a ceasefire with Israel.

Sullivan “emphasized the importance of practical steps to improve the lives of the Palestinians.”

Lapid next met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whom he lauded as “a great friend of Israel.”

“You are one of the biggest supporters of the concept that says being pro-Israel means being bipartisan. We all need to unite around the idea of expanding and deepening the circle of peace. We all need to unite around the basic principle that Israel has the right to defend itself and the Palestinians deserve a better life. We all need to unite around the idea that we will never let Iran become a nuclear threshold state,” stated Lapid.

Lapid has claimed that his government is “repairing” Israel’s relations with the Democratic Party which he says were harmed under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In Congress, Lapid attended a bipartisan leadership meeting attended by Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

He concluded his first day in Washington with a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, whom he called “one of the best friends Israel has in Washington. A leader who stands with us in all the important struggles and we can always count on in difficult moments.”

“Even when we have differences, I know that our goal is common, which is to see Israel strong, secure, and thriving,” said Lapid.

Harris stated that the US’ commitment to Israel and its security “is unwavering. The US-Israel relationship is as strong as it has ever been.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated at the Jerusalem Post conference on Tuesday that “Israel is one of the only countries in the world that is still under constant existential threat– with Iran at the top of our agenda. We have developed technological and operational tools that will guarantee our security against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Gantz also called on the international community to take action against Iran, saying that “Iran is first a global challenge, then a regional one and only finally, it is a threat to Israel. The future is now, and a future with a nuclear Iran is a dark one.”

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.