Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with French President Emanuel Macron in Paris Tuesday, and he warned European leaders that Iran is not serious about returning to the negotiating table and is merely stalling as they continue their march toward attaining a nuclear weapon, all the while angling for world sympathy to pressure the US to lift crippling economic sanctions.
“Sanctions must not be lifted from Iran. Sanctions must be tightened. A real military threat must be put before Iran because that is the only way to stop its race to become a nuclear power,” Lapid told Macron. On Monday, he delivered a similar message to Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
On Monday, talks resumed in Vienna between world powers and Iran regarding returning to the 2015 failed nuclear deal. While former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a hardline stance against the deal, the new Israeli government appears to be taking a diplomatic blitz approach while still carrying a “big stick” of an imminent military operation if Iran is not stopped.
It’s quite abnormal for a foreign minister of such a small country to gain an audience with heads of state of world powers like France and Great Britain. But Yair Lapid is no normal foreign minister. He is the alternate prime minister and is scheduled to become prime minister of Israel in two years. And he’s been more aggressive in diplomacy than any Israeli foreign minister in recent memory.
On Thursday, Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the US to immediately halt the negotiations with Iran, saying that Iran was using “nuclear blackmail” and urging world powers to take “concrete steps” to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Iran has fired back against Israel’s diplomatic missions to the negotiators in Vienna. On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted, “Israeli regime whose existence relies on tension is at it again, trumpeting lies to poison Vienna talks. All parties in the room now face a test of their independence and political will to carry out the job—irrespective of the fake news designed to destroy prospects for success.”
France, Britain, and Germany seem sympathetic toward the warnings Israel is giving, and Russia may be as well, but China does not appear to be as interested in what Israel has to say. Israel is focusing most of its diplomatic efforts on the US in order to get them to not lift the sanctions imposed on Iran. If the economic sanctions are lifted, Iran would have no incentive to negotiate, plus it would open the floodgates for them to pour even more funding into its efforts to build up their proxy armies (Hamas, Hezbollah, and others) throughout the Middle East…and ultimately, take aim at Israel, as threatened time and again.
While Israel is saying that it is willing to take the military route, here at home, the story is whether or not we have the capability. It appears over the past few years, the Netanyahu government did not take concrete steps to produce a viable military plan regarding Iran. There was an assumption that Trump would continue to be president, and he would be tough with Iran. Biden is a much weaker negotiator. And like the president he previously served, Biden is a bit naive when it comes to Middle East Islamic radicals.