Israeli PM urges end to Iran nuclear deal negotiations in talks with Germany's Scholz

Conversation was held days after the EU submitted a 'final' draft text aimed at salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at a cabinet meeting in July.  Reuters
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

In talks with Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday pressed his country's view that efforts to revive a nuclear deal with Iran should end, a senior Israeli diplomatic official told Reuters.

As well as speaking to Mr Scholz, Mr Lapid spoke to Ted Deutch, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee's Middle East Subcommittee, and with the US ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, the official said.

The head of Israel's National Security Council, Eyal Hulata, is due to travel to the US next week for more talks.

The conversations came days after the European Union submitted a “final” draft text aimed at salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal, which former US president Donald Trump walked away from in 2018.

Supporters gather with flags and posters to welcome the Palestinian president in the city of Ramallah on August 18, 2022.  Getty Images

In an emailed statement to Reuters, the Israeli official said the time had come to walk away from the talks with Iran, adding: “Anything else sends a message of weakness.”

“Now is the time to sit and talk about what to do going forward in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the official said.

According to AFP, another senior Israeli diplomat quoted Mr Lapid as saying during the call: “The Europeans sent Iran a final offer … and they declared that this offer was take it or leave it.

“Iran refused the offer and therefore the time has come to walk away. Anything else sends a message of weakness,” Mr Lapid said, according to the diplomat.

Israel has repeatedly opposed efforts to revive the deal, reserving the right to take military action to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon or against Iranian-backed militant groups in the region.

Iran, which has long denied wanting to develop a nuclear weapon, has warned of a “crushing” response to any Israeli attack.

Mr Scholz also condemned comments on the Holocaust made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a phone call on Thursday with Israel's prime minister, following an outcry in Germany and Israel.

At a Berlin joint press conference with Mr Scholz on Tuesday, Mr Abbas had accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians since 1947.

A child holds a poster of Mahmoud Abbas and others wave Palestinian flags as they welcome the Palestinian president in the city of Ramallah, on August 18, 2022. AFP

Mr Scholz subsequently came under fire for failing to immediately challenge Mr Abbas.

Mr Scholz stressed that Mr Abbas's claim was to “him personally and the government intolerable and completely unacceptable”.

The two leaders also agreed to meet in Berlin “soon”, the German leader's spokesman said in a statement.

Mr Lapid's office said he thanked Mr Scholz “both as the prime minister of Israel, and as the son of Holocaust survivors”.

Israel's national security Mr Hulata will visit the US next week as part of discussions aiming to prevent Iran from obtaining an atomic weapon, the diplomat added.

Updated: August 19, 2022, 8:55 AM