Blinken to meet Israel’s new foreign minister in Rome

It will be their first meeting since Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid assumed his new position.

By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Israel’s new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Italy over the weekend, a senior State Department official and Israel’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

They said the meeting would take place on Sunday in Rome but neither side offered any details about the agenda, which is likely to focus on Israel’s concerns about a possible U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal and Israel’s security more broadly.

It will be their first meeting since Lapid assumed his position after longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ousted. The discussion comes as Israel’s new government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett seeks to mend relations with U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.

The relationship is critical to both countries. Israel has long regarded the United States as its closest ally and guarantor of its security and international standing while the U.S. counts on Israel’s military and intelligence prowess in a turbulent Middle East.

In a phone conversation last Thursday, Lapid and Blinken “discussed the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, the importance of the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship and the need to improve Israeli-Palestinian relations in practical ways,” the State Department said.

They also “shared opinions on opportunities to deepen normalization efforts as well as on regional security issues, including Iran.

“Secretary Blinken and Minister Lapid underscored the strong partnership between the United States and Israel, and America’s unwavering support for Israel’s security.”

The two also agreed to a policy of “no surprises,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Blinken and Lapid agreed to a policy of “no surprises,” to maintain open and regular communication, and planned to meet again soon.

Regarding “no surprises,” former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed what he said was Lapid’s “astounding commitment” to Blinken that compromises the security of the State of Israel against the Iranian threat.