The US and Israel Revive Their Joint Anti-Nuclear Declaration
United States President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid have reiterated their anti-Iran positions in a joint declaration committing to preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and United States President Joe Biden have reaffirmed their anti-Iran positions in a joint declaration committing to preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The statement was signed in West Jerusalem on Thursday, January 14, the second day of Biden’s four-day Middle East tour, the first in the region since he took office in January 2021.
After the conclusion of the meeting, the Israeli prime minister told reporters of the New York Times that the two had “discussed the Iranian threat”. But, while Biden affirmed that “we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Lapid pushed even further, asking all democratic nations to vow to act if the Iranians continue “to develop their nuclear program”, adding that “there will be no nuclear Iran.”
The declaration is, however, merely symbolic and more of a reaffirmation of the US and Israel’s objection to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “It’s nothing new,” said Al Jazeera’s reporter, Stefanie Dekker. “It reaffirms the commitment of the two countries, of the American commitment to Israel’s security and that both Israel and the United States will work to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Moreover, the distinction between Biden’s vow to stop a “weapon” and Lapid’s insistence on destroying Iran’s entire “program” goes to the heart of their countries’ differing approaches in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as the New York Times affirms.
Israel has, thus, conducted a series of sabotage operations to slow Iran’s ability to enrich nuclear fuel, while Biden has insisted that diplomacy and a restoration of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement are the best ways to find a permanent solution.
Unfortunately, talks between Iran and Western powers to restore a 2015 nuclear deal have not progressed for months, with Tehran and Washington blaming each other for the stalemate.
Indeed, members of Israel’s leadership urged, both publicly and privately, that the United States develop a more credible military option to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to convince Tehran to halt the program. Nevertheless, despite those remarks, during the meeting Biden stuck talking about blocking Iran from obtaining a weapon, not a “program”.
And, as if it was not enough, while the Iranians insist that their nuclear programme is peaceful and that they have no intention of building a nuclear bomb, Israel is widely believed to have its own nuclear weapons – even though it has never publicly confirmed it.
At Thursday’s news conference, Biden and Lapid were also pressed on their differing views on Iran and helping the Palestinians. But they were not asked about Palestinian American Shireen Abu Akleh was a journalist who was shot dead on May 11 while reporting on Israeli military raids in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian reaction to the meeting was immediate: small-scale protests took place in Bethlehem and Ramallah in opposition to Biden’s visit and US policies towards Palestine.
While the US confirmed its support for the two-state solution in the joint Biden-Lapid statement, Joe Biden has done little to reverse measures taken by his predecessor, President Donald Trump – a very popular figure in Israel, – including the opening of a US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. “Israel must remain an independent, democratic Jewish state to guarantee the security of the Jewish people and the entire world. I believe that to my core, and the best way to achieve that remains a two-state solution,” Biden said.
Biden concluded his trip to Israel on Friday, 15. A few hours before Biden was to depart, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to “all air carriers,” signaling the end of its longstanding ban on Israeli flights overflying its territory – a key step toward normalization between the two nations, building on the strong but informal ties the two countries have developed in recent years over their shared concerns about Iran’s growing influence in the region.
The White House declared that it paves the way for “a more integrated, stable, and secure Middle East region.”