Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to work together to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons on Sunday, though differences between the two allies persisted.
Speaking in advance of this week's summit meeting in Israel of Middle Eastern foreign ministers as well as Blinken, Foreign Minister Lapid acknowledged disagreements with Washington on a new international nuclear accord with Iran.
"We have disagreements about a nuclear agreement and its consequences, but open and honest dialogue is part of the strength of our friendship," Lapid said at the press conference in Jerusalem. "We share a vision of peace through power," Lapid said ahead of the Middle East summit, which will take place on Sunday and Monday at at Kibbutz Sde Boker in Israel's south.
Putin's wild card, Ukraine's hope: LISTEN to Anshel Pfeffer in bombarded Kyiv
Blinken said that the United States and Israel see "eye to eye" on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. "Whether there's a JCPOA or not, our commitment to the core principle of Iran never acquiring a nuclear weapon is unwavering," he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the international nuclear accord.
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from in 2018. The Biden administration is seeking to rejoin the accord through a revised agreement being negotiated in Vienna.
The secretary of state also slammed Tehran's "destabilizing activities in the region and beyond," which he said have only increased since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal.
Lapid, however, said that "Israel will do anything we believe is needed to stop the Iranian nuclear problem program. Anything from our point of view, the Iranian threat is not theoretical, the Iranians wants to destroy Israel. They will not succeed. We will not let them."
- Israel summit updates: Foreign ministers discuss Iran threat; Blinken warns against settlement expansion
- The symbolic timing of Israel's Mideast summit for Palestinians
- Iran says nuclear deal 'imminent,' but U.S. remains coy
Blinken thanked Lapid for his work in bolstering regional cooperation with Arab countries, noting that "normalization is becoming the new normal," and added that the United States remains committed to a "negotiated two-state solution" of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Lapid thanked his American counterpart for his support of normalization efforts, but expressed disagreement over plans by the Biden administration to establish a separate consulate in East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, in addition to the American Embassy in Jerusalem. The Israeli foreign minister lauded efforts to improve the day-to-day lives of Palestinians, but added that "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and Israel alone."
Blinken is scheduled to travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah Sunday to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and then will go to East Jerusalem to meet with Palestinians there. The secretary of state said he aims for a "positive agenda" with the Palestinians, and pledged additional humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian Authority in addition to private-sector cooperation.
Blinken also noted that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are making efforts to ensure a calm holiday season with the start in early April of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which has been a period of tension in the past and which this year coincides with Passover and Easter.
Ben Samuels and Reuters contributed to this report.