The time has come for countries of the region to normalize ties with Israel with an eye to the future, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Lapid’s remarks came at the start of the week in which US President Joe Biden plans to visit Israel and then fly directly to Saudi Arabia. Biden wrote in an op-ed at The Washington Post on Saturday that the flight symbolized “budding relations and steps towards normalization” between Israel and Arab states.
“From Jerusalem, the president’s plane will fly to Saudi Arabia,” Lapid said. “He will carry with him a message of peace and hope from us. Israel extends its hand to all the countries of the region and calls on them to build ties with us, establish relations with us, and change history for our children.”
“He will carry with him a message of peace and hope from us. Israel extends its hand to all the countries of the region and calls on them to build ties with us"Pm Yair Lapid
Calling Biden “one of the closest friends that Israel has ever had in American politics,” Lapid quoted the president as saying: “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. I am a Zionist.”
Lapid said the priority on his agenda for meeting with Biden is the Iranian nuclear threat, pointing out recent reports that the Islamic Republic is enriching uranium with even more advanced centrifuges than previously known, in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The prime minister called for a “decisive” international response, consisting of activating snapback sanctions, meaning the reinstatement of pre-2015 sanctions on Iran.
“Israel will not stand idly by while Iran tries to attack us”PM Yair Lapid
“Israel, for its part, reserves for itself full freedom of action, diplomatic and operational, in the fight against the Iranian nuclear program,” he said. “Israel will not stand idly by while Iran tries to attack us.”
Israel’s security establishment can “reach anyone anywhere – and they will do just that,” he warned.
Lapid also thanked the US for maintaining the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ designation as a foreign terrorist organization.
“Iran is behind Hezbollah and supports Hamas, and Iranian terror cells recently tried to murder Israeli tourists in Istanbul,” he stated.