Israeli officials are continuing their efforts to coordinate a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Yair Lapid and US President Joe Biden as the US appears to be close to agreeing on a return to the nuclear deal with Iran.
A senior political official told reporters on Sunday, "We contacted the Americans, and we tried to understand if there is anything against Prime Minister Lapid, and if there is any American evasion, the answer was no, and that the conversation will be held soon but the efforts to coordinate it are still underway.”
Channel 13 News reported that Lapid is not satisfied with only a conversation, but is also requesting a meeting with Biden even before the UN General Assembly that will be held in September. According to the report, the possibility that he will travel to Washington beforehand in order to hold the meeting with President Biden is being considered, although the chances of such a meeting taking place are not great at the moment.
Earlier on Sunday, Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to meet Monday for a security update, amid reports the US and other Western powers are preparing to finalize a new nuclear deal with Iran.
Just minutes after the meeting was announced, Netanyahu released a video statement attacking Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, hitting back at the Prime Minister and accusing the two leaders of neglecting the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
“Unfortunately, this past year, Lapid and Gantz have totally neglected the public struggle against the Iran nuclear deal.”
“For 12 years, I fought hard against this deal, and even got the US to drop out of the deal, but during their one year in power, Lapid and Gantz fell asleep at the wheel and enabled the US and Iran to reach a nuclear deal which endangers our future.”
“They simply did nothing to pressure the American government to not sign this deal. Unlike us, they didn’t go to Congress, they didn’t go the UN, they did not wage a wide PR campaign in the world media.”
In the statement, Netanyahu also took aim at his successor, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, for being on vacation in Italy ahead of the impending signing of the new nuclear deal.
Hours earlier on Sunday, Lapid held a press conference on the likely restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, criticizing the format of the draft currently under consideration.
The Prime Minister blamed Netanyahu for the deal, singling out his 2015 address to Congress on the eve of the original agreement.
“To this day, we are paying for the damage caused by Netanyahu’s address to Congress. As a result of it, the American government ended its dialogue with us and barred Israel from presenting changes to the deal.”