Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to London early Friday morning to discuss Iran’s existential threat as top military officials warn that his government’s judicial overhaul plan was harming national security.
He departs after a day of street protests and will be greeted in London with further rallies against the overhaul plan, which opponent fear will weaken Israeli democracy.
The trip, his fourth to Europe since taking office in late December, should have highlighted his high-level diplomatic skills, but instead, it’s likely to shine the spotlight on his role as the leader of a country embroiled in constitutional chaos.
Hours before leaving, Netanyahu announced that he planned to take over the judicial overhaul process despite Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara’s legal opinion that doing so was a conflict of interest.
Netanyahu is expected to immediately meet with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak and with Home Secretary Suella Braverman. It’s his first meeting with Sunak, who became Prime Minister in October of last year.
“Their meeting will focus on the Iranian issue and the need to formulate a united international front against Iran to stop its nuclear program,” Netanyahu’s office said.
They will also discuss Russia’s war against Ukraine and regional issues in the Middle East. The two are also expected to discuss strengthening the strategic ties between Israel and the United Kingdom and increasing security and intelligence cooperation. They will also discuss international issues especially the war in Ukraine and developments in the Middle East and the strategic relationship between the two countries.
“Their meeting will focus on the Iranian issue and the need to formulate a united international front against Iran to stop its nuclear program.”Netanyahus office
Why is Netanyahu's UK visit important?
The United Kingdom is particularly important with respect to Iran, because it is a permanent Security Council member, and it is a signatory to the defunct Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran deal. Both France and Germany, where Netanyahu has also visited in the last two months, are also JCPOA signatories.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited London earlier this week and met with his British counterpart James Cleverly and said the 2030 Roadmap for bilateral relations to boost cooperation including in technology and security.
Cleverly this week also met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who visited London.
The United Kingdom has been critical of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, its decision to repeal the 2005 Disengagement Law in northern Samaria and comments Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made on Sunday in Paris, in which he said there was no such thing as a Palestinian people.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the judicial override plan are expected to add points of tension to Netanyahu’s meetings, which will otherwise highlight the strong bond between the two countries.