Raisi Iran Win Is A ‘Wake Up’ For Nuclear Pact Parties – Israel PM

Iranian ultraconservative cleric and presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi gives a news conference after voting in the presidential election, at a polling station in the capital Tehran, on June 18, 2021. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

 

Israel’s new premier Naftali Bennett Sunday described the victory of ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi in Iran’s presidential election as a “wake up” call for parties to a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Raisi was elected with just under 62 percent of votes cast in Friday’s poll, and will replace moderate President Hassan Rouhani — whose landmark achievement was a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers — in August.

“Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for the world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement, and to understand who they are doing business with,” said Bennett, in remarks at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The 2015 deal saw Iran accept limits on its nuclear capabilities in return for an easing of sanctions, but former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew three years later and ramped up sanctions, prompting Tehran to pull back from its nuclear commitments.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to return to the deal and state parties — also including China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — have lately been negotiating its revival in Vienna.

Israel and Iran are arch enemies and the Jewish state has always opposed the nuclear agreement, which it says could enable the Islamic republic to develop nuclear arms.

A change of Israeli government a week ago — which saw long-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ousted from office — has not changed the country’s policy on this matter.

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Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gives an address before the new cabinet at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 13, 2021. Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP

 

In an initial reaction to Raisi’s election win, Israel’s foreign ministry said late Saturday that the international community should be alarmed because of his commitment to a “rapidly advancing military nuclear program”.

It also described Raisi as Iran’s “most extremist president to date”.

Iran has always denied seeking a nuclear weapon.

Jewish nationalist Bennett came to power last Sunday after Israel’s parliament approved a disparate coalition that gives him the premiership until 2023, when his main partner in the new alliance — centrist Yair Lapid — is due to take over.

Lapid, who became foreign minister as part of the coalition agreement, earlier this week pledged Israel “will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb” and said he was opposed to a revival of the 2015 deal.

AFP

EU Congratulates New Israeli Prime Minister Bennett

Israel’s incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gives an address before the new cabinet at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 13, 2021. PHOTO: Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP

 

EU Council President Charles Michel congratulated the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a message posted on Twitter on Sunday after an alliance of parties ousted Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Looking forward to strengthen(ing) the (EU-Israel) partnership for common prosperity and towards lasting regional peace & stability,” he tweeted.

The European Council represents the European Union’s member states.

Bennett, a right-wing Jewish nationalist, and former tech millionaire takes over at the helm of an Israeli government pieced together by an eight-party coalition.

Their alliance ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in power.

Bennett, a former defence minister under Netanyahu, vowed to keep Israel safe from Iran, promising that “Israel won’t let Iran have nuclear weapons”, a goal the Islamic republic denies pursuing.

READ ALSO: Netanyahu Ousted As Israel Approves New Govt

The diverse anti-Netanyahu bloc was cobbled together by the secular centrist Yair Lapid, a former TV presenter.

It spans the political spectrum, with three right-wing, two centrists, and two left-wing parties, and even an Arab Islamic conservative party.

AFP

‘Israel Has No Better Friend Than US’: Biden Congratulates New PM Bennett


Head of Israel’s right-wing Yamina party Naftali Bennett addresses lawmakers during a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden on Sunday congratulated incoming Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett after an alliance of parties ousted Benjamin Netanyahu and formed a new government.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet,” Biden said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations. Israel has no better friend than the United States.

Biden added that he was “fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region.”

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(L to R) Israel’s outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with his successor, incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021.  EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

 

Bennett, a right-wing Jewish nationalist and former tech millionaire, will take over at the helm of the eight-party bloc, united only by their shared disdain for the hawkish right-wing leader known as Bibi.

In a Knesset speech before the vote, the 49-year-old Bennett promised the new government, a coalition of ideologically divergent parties, “represents all of Israel.”

AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Wins Election

netanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won a surprise victory in Israel’s election on Wednesday after tacking hard to the right in the final days of campaigning, including abandoning a commitment to negotiate a Palestinian State.

In a four-day pre-election blitz, Netanyahu made a series of promises designed to shore up his Likud base and draw voters from other right-wing and nationalist parties, including a pledge to go on building settlements on occupied land and saying that there would be no Palestinian State if he is re-elected.

Exit polls had forecast a dead heat but with almost all votes counted, results gave Likud a clear lead over its main rival, the centre-left Zionist Union.

With 99.5 percent of votes counted, Likud won 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, comfortably defeating the Zionist Union opposition on 24 seats.

It amounted to a dramatic and unexpected victory – the last opinion polls published four days before the vote showed the Zionist Union with a four-seat advantage over Likud.

The outcome gave Mr Netanyahu a strong chance of forming a right-wing coalition government.

It puts the incumbent on course to clinch a fourth term and become Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minster.

In a statement, Likud said Netanyahu intended to form a new government within weeks, with negotiations already underway with the pro-settler Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett, as well as with religious groups.

Despite the numbers stacking up in Netanyahu’s favor, Zionist Union leader, Isaac Herzog said “everything is still open” and that he already had spoken to party leaders about the possibility of forming a government, although, the arithmetic for him is much harder to achieve than for Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu described the vote as a “great victory” for Likud, which had trailed the Zionist Union in opinion polls in the run-up to the election.

He said the result was achieved “against all odds”.

“Reality is not waiting for us,” Netanyahu said. “The citizens of Israel expect us to quickly put together a leadership that will work for them regarding security, economy and society as we committed to do – and we will do so.”