Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid departed last night for Washington. Central to his meeting there will be Iran and its unwillingness to halt plans to make a nuclear bomb. Lapid will broach the topic in meetings with US Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and representatives of the Democratic and Republican leaderships. In addition, he will meet with representatives of the Jewish community and AIPAC leaders.
One of the highlights of the visit will be Lapid’s participation in a meeting with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Ziad. Lapid’s meetings will also be attended by Israel’s designated ambassador to Washington, Mike Herzog, who has not yet taken office, and with American approval will join on as a “consultant.”
At the center of Lapid’s talks will be the Iranian issue. The challenge before them is the hard line the Iranians are taking in pursuing nuclear weapons. Lapid will also discuss Iran’s hostile aggression throughout the entire region.
Lapid will also emphasize the return of bipartisan relations between the two countries, as well as the promotion of normalization between Israel and the Arab states on the anniversary of the Abraham Accords. The Palestinian issue will also be discussed, but primarily just to clarify differences between the two sides. At this time there is no point in hiding the fact that the current Israeli coalition government cannot respond to American demands to restrain construction in the Jewish settlements. Lapid believes that there is a great deal of room for working together with the Americans despite these limitations, and has made no secret of his support for the two-state solution. The Americans understand that at the moment this is not possible. Still, there is plenty of room for agreements and progress on a number of different issues.
The issue of opening an American consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem will also come up. The US has announced that they intend to open the consulate and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said that Israel opposes this. It is estimated that the Americans will not take this step before Israel’s state budget is passed in November.
The promotion of the visa exemption for Israelis visiting the US will also be discussed.