President Reuven Rivlin stressed that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is the world’s greatest strategic threat.
By World Israel News Staff
President Joe Biden sought to assure Israel that he would not tolerate a nuclear Iran as he met with outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday amid a major shakeup in Israeli politics and growing angst in Jerusalem over the U.S. administration’s effort to reenter the Iran nuclear deal.
“What I can say to you is that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” said Biden to Rivlin, sitting together in the Oval Office.
Rivlin stressed that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is the world’s greatest strategic threat. He also criticized Palestinian moves at the International Criminal Court in The Hague to push with a war crimes probe against the IDF and discussed the aftermath of the 11-day Gaza war in May.
Reviving the nuclear deal is a key foreign policy priority for the Biden administration. Israel opposes the U.S. returning to the JCPOA nuclear agreement from which Washington withdrew in 2018. The sixth round of indirect U.S.-Iran talks in Vienna concluded earlier in June with a new round yet to be scheduled.
The visit came amidst the backdrop of U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias near the Syria-Iraq border and a meeting between Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken which many have called a “reset” of Israel-U.S. relations. Both took place on Sunday.
Rivlin also visited Capitol Hill on Monday where he met with a group of representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The only Republican attending was minority whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Afterwards, Rivlin met with the United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaibi, who was a key figure in forging the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
On Tuesday, Rivlin heads to New York for meetings at the United Nations with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and envoys from various countries before returning to Israel.
The U.S. visit is Rivlin’s last as President of Israel. His seven-year terms ends on July 7. He will be replaced by Isaac Herzog.
State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki confirmed that the U.S. is working to schedule a visit for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Associated Press contributed to this report.