The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with his British counterpart, Theresa May on Monday in London to discuss Iranian sanctions and the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian occupied territory.
Although President Donald Trump was not present for their conversation, each of the world leaders echoed Trump’s own sentiments to one another in an effort to sway each nation toward different statements Trump has made in recent days regarding their respective policies. Netanyahu encouraged May to join in on subjecting Iran to sanctions as a result of their recent ballistic missile test, while May cautioned him on pursuing Israel’s plans for new settlement development.
“Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, it threatens the world. And it offers provocation after provocation,” Netanyahu told May in the days leading up to the meeting.
“That’s why I welcome President Trump’s assistance of new sanctions against Iran, I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations. I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure that Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.”
Theresa May strongly supported the nuclear deal made with Iran and although both Trump and Netanyahu have criticized it, Trump’s recent sanctions against the Arab nation tip toed around the agreement. In response to Netanyahu’s statements, May said that she was willing to discuss Iran during their Monday meeting.
May has also been highly critical of Israel in the past, particularly in regard to settlement expansion, though it would seem that the hope for favorable trade deals between Israel and a post-Brexit UK may have shifted her position slightly. Her administration was openly critical of John Kerry’s December statements denouncing portions of Israeli policy. She told Netanyahu on Monday that Britain is a “strong and close friend of Israel.”
Theresa May’s spokesperson said May shares Israel’s concerns regarding the Iran’s ballistic missile test, and that they discussed them with the UN, but that the nuclear deal remains important.
“With regard to the specific agreement relating to the nuclear weapons… it’s important that it is very carefully and rigorously policed, but we should also be clear that it has neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade.” May’s spokeswoman told reporters.
President Trump’s administration announced a new series of sanctions to be levied against twenty-five people and companies tied to Iran’s ballistic missile program late last week. The sanctions, according to Trump, are a part of a harder line the White House is taking in regards to Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and support of extremist groups in the Middle East. He also warned Netanyahu that continued settlement expansion in Israel may hinder efforts to find peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” the White House said in a statement that echoed Trump’s warning.
May and Netanyahu met privately and did not hold a press conference immediately thereafter to discuss their meeting.
Image courtesy of PA/BBC