U.K.'s Johnson Tells Herzog: Israel's 'Point on Iran Is Well-made, World Doesn't Have Much Time'

Prime Minister Johnson added that the designation of Hamas as a terror group 'was almost immediately vindicated by the appalling incident that we saw in Israel,' referring to the Old City attack that killed a 25-year-old

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Israel's President Isaac Herzog at 10 Downing Street in London on Tuesday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Israel's President Isaac Herzog at 10 Downing Street in London on Tuesday. Credit: GPO
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday that "the world doesn't have much time," as world powers are set to restart diplomatic talks over nuclear deal with Iran.

Herzog and Johnson met at 10 Downing Street in London, as part of the Israeli president's visit to the United Kingdom. He told Johnson that Israel hopes its allies will be "as tough as possible" in upcoming negotiations with Iran and that "only if all options are on the table may things move in the right direction." Johnson said that Israel's point on the Iranian nuclear issue was "well-made" and that "we see a situation in which the world doesn't have much time."

Herzog thanked Johnson for the U.K.'s designation of Hamas as a terror group, which Johnson said "was a difficult and controversial decision" but one that he thought was the correct choice. Johnson said he thought the move "was almost immediately vindicated by the appalling incident that we saw in Israel," referring to a shooting attack in Jerusalem that killed a 25-year-old immigrant.

On Monday, Herzog met with members of the British parliament and implored the major powers, which include Britain, to be as tough as possible on Iran in upcoming talks on the renewal of its international nuclear agreement.

Israel’s assumption, Herzog said, is that the Iranians will not be negotiating to come to an agreement, but rather to rush toward a nuclear bomb. The major powers have an obligation to be strong and to make it clear that all the options are on the table, when it comes to responding to Iran.

At his meeting at the British parliament with about 100 members of the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group, Herzog warned that Iranian aggression in the Middle East is what led to the collapse of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli president welcomed the British government’s decision to seek to have all of Hamas and not just its military wing declared a terrorist organization under U.K. law. He added that Gaza, which Hamas controls, has been abducted by Hamas and takes orders from Iran's "coalition of hate."

At his meeting with the British lawmakers, Herzog called for support for the coalition represented by Israel and its moderate Arab allies in the Middle East. While in the past Egypt and Jordan related to Israel as an enemy, he said, now Israel and the two Arab countries are strategic partners, signaling a regional shift.

Israel is part of a coalition of countries whose interest it is to advance peace and dialogue to develop cooperation and address hatred, terrorism and antisemitism of the most terrible kind, said Herzog, whose U.K.-born father, Chaim Herzog, was also president of Israel.

The British parliament is expected to vote this week on a request by British Home Secretary Priti Patel to declare all of Hamas a terrorist organization, rather than just its military wing. That would outlaw support for Hamas’ political wing and subject its supporters to criminal sanctions including up to a decade in prison in Britain.

Over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry of the Palestinian Authority condemned the proposal, saying that it “places obstacles in the way of any opportunity to achieve a peace agreement," as well as hindering "efforts to achieve calm and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.”

For his part, however, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said the proposal was insignificant. Referring to Hamas, he said the British policy would have “no implications on the movement and its activities on behalf of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

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