Dr Mike Evans

Herzog encourages fight against antisemitism and Iran in visit with UK’s prime minister

Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week in London during his visit to the UK. He lauded the PM’s efforts in the fight against antisemitism and urged him to make an even stronger response to Iran’s race to develop a nuclear weapon.

The two leaders discussed a variety of issues of importance to both nations. Following the meeting, Herzog released a brief response on Twitter.

“Israel is grateful for the UK’s firm stance against Hamas terror and Iran’s dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons, which must be stopped. Just met my friend British PM @BorisJohnson at @10DowningStreet to discuss deepening our strategic collaboration,” Herzog wrote.

The message referred in part to the UK’s recent declaration listing the entire Hamas, both its political and military branches, as a terrorist organization, a move appreciated by Israel.

The focus on Iran came amid an urgency noted both Herzog and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in recent meetings. Iran has recently indicated an interest in returning to talks about renewing the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015, though Israel’s leaders do not expect the discussion to change Iran’s current efforts to speed uranium enrichment.

In a meeting in August with US President Joe Biden, Bennett shared his urgency over Iran as well. The two leaders agreed Iran should never obtain a nuclear weapon, and stressed their unity on the issue.

However, a recent communication from the Biden administration has claimed that Israel’s policy of striking at Iran’s scientists and nuclear industrial targets is indeed counterproductive and only spurs Tehran to redouble its efforts. Israel’s leaders were quick to reaffirm the nation’s right to act independently in self-defense.

Israel is likely to maintain its policy of counterterrorism with regard to Iran, just as Israel expects Iran to proceed with its race to a nuke, regardless of negotiations over a renewed nuclear deal. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently said he expects Iran will be a nuclear state within five years, with or without an agreement.