US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the US will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon and that he believes diplomacy remains the best way to prevent the nation from getting a nuclear weapon, despite Israeli objections to the deal with the Islamic Republic.
“This is a vital security interest for both Israel and the United States, and I would add the rest of the world,” Biden said at a news conference in Jerusalem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
He added: “I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome. We will continue to work with Israel to counter Iran’s other threats across the region, including its support for terrorism and its ongoing ballistic missile program and proliferation of weapons for terrorists and proxies like Hezbollah.”
Lapid, who stood alongside Biden at the press conference, rejected another nuclear deal as a means to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
“Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat,” said Lapid.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 News that aired Wednesday, Biden said he would use force “as a last resort” to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but did not specify what that meant.
Iran was a major topic of discussion during Biden and Lapid’s bilateral meeting on Thursday, and the two leaders signed a new joint statement on Thursday aimed at expanding security ties between their nations and countering what they called Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region. The president reiterated the US’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security.
The president expressed support for the Abraham Accords, one of Trump’s achievements so far, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries and sought to expand growing Arab-Israeli security and economic ties. He also emphasized US support for expanding Israel’s integration into the region — a major theme of Biden’s four-day trip to the Middle East.
Biden also reiterated his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the press conference.
“Israel must remain an independent, democratic Jewish state, the ultimate guarantor and guarantor of the security of the Jewish people not only in Israel, but throughout the world. I believe that to the core of my soul,” Biden said.
He continued: “And the best way to achieve this remains a two-state solution for two peoples, both of whom have deep and ancient roots in this country, living side by side in peace and security. Both states fully respect equal rights.” their citizens as people enjoying equal degrees of freedom, and the more that moves us away from that outcome, I believe that anything is detrimental to the long-term security of Israel.”
The US and Israel also launched a new high-level strategic dialogue on technology on Thursday, which officials said is designed to strengthen cooperation between the two nations in pandemic preparedness, climate technology, artificial technologies and other trusted technology ecosystems.
The president also attended the first virtual meeting of leaders of the “I2U2” group, which also includes Israel, India and the United Arab Emirates, on Thursday. The focus of Thursday’s meeting was food security as well as clean energy progress, Biden said before the meeting.
The United Arab Emirates has announced it will invest $2 billion in agricultural parks in India to tackle the food security crisis.
“This unique grouping of countries aims to harness the vibrancy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our world, with a particular focus on joint investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transport, space, health and food security,” read a joint statement by the leaders of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Biden met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his residence and was set to discuss Herzog’s diplomatic efforts to further integrate Israel into the region, officials said.
Herzog presented Biden with Israel’s Presidential Medal of Honor, and Biden said the award was “among the greatest honors of my career.”
The President will then meet with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders have a relationship that spans nearly four decades and began when Biden was a junior senator. Still, things haven’t always been smooth sailing between the two men. Netanyahu made no secret of his disdain for former President Barack Obama — the feeling was apparently mutual — and Biden was severely embarrassed when a visit to Israel as vice president in 2010 coincided with an Israeli government announcement approving plans for new settlement houses.
“Obviously, they go back many years and know each other well. And it was clear to us during this visit that the relationship between the United States and Israel is about countries, about our strategic partnership as two states — not about individual leaders,” one official said.
Biden will also meet with American athletes competing in the Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event, and watch part of the opening ceremony.
The president said he would take that message to the Saudi leadership when he travels to Saudi Arabia on Friday, saying: “With regards to Iran and convincing the Saudis and others that we mean what we say — we mean what we say.”
Biden has pushed to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, as he faces growing pressure from key allies in the Middle East to develop a plan to contain Iran. Biden’s hosts in Israel oppose the new Iran nuclear deal, and the previous version of the deal was unpopular in the country.
But hope that a deal will happen appears to be fading, with the president acknowledging Thursday that the U.S. is “not going to wait forever” for a response from Iran’s leadership.