Israeli Leaders Hit Out at Each Other After Iran, Saudi Arabia Normalize Ties

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks about Iran at a security briefing for the foreign press at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Lapid called on U.S. President Joe Biden and Western powers to call off an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, saying an agreement would fail to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb and reward it with billions of dollars to fund Israel’s enemies. Israel’s caretaker prime minister used stark language on Wednesday in his criticism of the expected agreement. (Debbie Hill/Pool via AP)InternationalIndiaAfricaThis week Tehran and Riyadh were able to overcome their 7-year rift. But for one country, the news of a restored diplomatic relationship doesn’t come as a welcomed prospect.Top Israeli officials continued to trade blame following a Chinese-negotiated deal that has led to the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran and a reduction in tensions in the Middle East.After former Prime Ministers Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett claimed sitting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was responsible for allowing Tehran and Riyadh to normalize their bilateral ties, an anonymous senior Israeli political official struck back on Friday, accusing the pair of laying the groundwork for the deal during their tenures.”The contacts between [Iran and Saudi Arabia] started a year ago, during the term of the previous government, because there was a feeling of Israeli and American weakness,” the official reportedly stated, adding: “Weakness brings rapprochement with Iran, while strength pushes rapprochement away.”Lapid’s office rejected that characterization as “delusional,” and pointed out that “during the period of our government, an aviation agreement was signed with Saudi Arabia and the tripartite security agreement with Saudi Arabia and Egypt.”Lapid claimed that it’s actually Netanyahu who is responsible for an apparent deterioration in relations with the United States.“All of this came to a halt when the most extreme government in Israel’s history was established here, and it became clear to the Saudis that Netanyahu was weak and the Americans stopped listening to him.”Lapid had previously lambasted the Iranian-Saudi detente as “a complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy.” and claimed that the development was linked to a controversial push to overhaul the judicial system that’s led to massive street protests.”This is what happens when you deal all day long with legal madness instead of doing what needs to be done vis-à-vis Iran and instead of strengthening relations with the United States.”Virtually every Middle Eastern nation may have welcomed the deal, but former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seemed to concur with Lapid’s assessment.”The renewal of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a serious and dangerous development for Israel, a political victory for Iran and a fatal blow to the effort to build a regional coalition against Iran,” he insisted.“It is a resounding failure of the Netanyahu government, stemming from a combination of diplomatic neglect with general weakness and internal conflict in the country,” Bennett claimed, adding, “the countries of the world and the region watch Israel and see a country in conflict, with a dysfunctional government. And so these countries choose a side.”


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