June 22, 2021 In The News

Haaretz: Lapid Tells U.S. pro-Israeli Group How He Plans to Restore Ties With Democrats

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday held a video call with the board of directors for Democratic Majority for Israel, the pro-Israel organization founded by veteran pollster and senior Lapid adviser Mark Mellman.

In what the group described as Lapid’s first call with an American organization, DMFI said that Lapid “made clear that a strong U.S.-Israel relationship benefits both countries, is a core strategic asset for Israel, and requires a bipartisan approach, working with both Democrats and Republicans.”

Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have both explicitly discussed the concerted effort their government will undertake to improve ties following opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s drift toward the Republican Party during his time in power.

The group noted that Lapid said how “reinvigorating Israel’s relationship with Democrats is one of his central objectives and congratulated DMFI’s leadership for the outstanding work the organization is doing to strengthen support for the U.S.-Israel relationship in the Democratic Party.” The organization also stated that the foreign minister emphasized his enthusiasm for working with the Biden administration and appreciated the warm reception the new government has received from the White House.

Lapid also shared his conviction that Iran cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, DMFI added, as well his commitment to strengthening ties with Israel’s neighbors in the Arab world. Lapid previously referred to Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi as “the butcher from Tehran,” and said he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians. He is slated, meanwhile, to head to the United Arab Emirates on June 29-30 for the first-ever visit by a top Israeli diplomat to the Gulf country.

The organization added that Lapid “indicated that Israel will continue to find ways to benefit all the people of the region and narrow the conflict with the Palestinians.” This language is consistent with Bennett’s language of “shrinking the conflict,” inspired by Israeli academic Micah Goodman.

This path is seen as an alternative to “solving” or “managing” the conflict, but seeks to contain the conflict by empowering Palestinians without compromising Israeli security. This policy is a clear signal that the new government intends to not disregard the Biden administration’s desire for improved relations on the ground between Israelis and Palestinians.