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Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, greets Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
The top diplomats of the US and Israel, Antony Blinken (R) and Yair Lapid (L), met for talks in RomeImage: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/picture alliance

Israel looks to fix 'mistakes' of past with US

June 27, 2021

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken has met his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, in Rome as the countries push for a reset of diplomatic ties.


Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met for talks on Sunday in Rome — in the first face-to-face meeting since Israel's new government was sworn in.

Iran nuclear deal talks and relations with Gulf Arab states were high on the priority list for the meeting, with the longtime allies looking to start a new chapter in relations.

What did Lapid say on the Iran deal?

Israel's top diplomat indicated that his government was still highly suspicious of the Iran nuclear deal, but pledged to work with Washington.

"Israel has some serious reservations about the Iran nuclear deal that is being put together in Vienna," Lapid said at the start of talks with Blinken at a hotel in Rome.

"We believe the way to discuss those disagreements is though direct and professional conversations, not in press conferences," he added.

Lapid also pledged to amend "mistakes" of the past, referencing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's close ties with the US Republican Party and former US President Donald Trump.

"In the past few years, mistakes were made,'' he said. "Israel's bipartisan standing was hurt. We will fix those mistakes together.''

On the US side, Blinken noted that, although the two allies have new governments, "the foundation that we're working on is one of an enduring partnership."

Why is the meeting significant?

With both Trump and Netanyahu no longer in office, the US and Israel are taking a new diplomatic approach.

Instead of the large steps taken by prior administrations, both countries are working on smaller, stabilizing goals — such as solidifying the ceasefire between Israel and the militant group Hamas that ended last month's deadly conflict.

The Biden administration has made it clear it is not looking to launch any major peace initiatives in the Middle East for now. 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, an ultranationalist, is currently heading up the country's fragile coalition government. Under the coalition agreement, Lapid, a centrist, will take over as prime minister in 2023.

Speaking in Paris on Friday, Blinken said it was crucial to "avoid provocations and incidents over the coming days, weeks and months that could reignite the violence and then to work to create a bit more confidence between the Israelis and Palestinians."

rs/dj (AFP, Reuters)

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