PM to address AIPAC, meet with the president and senior staff; Visit centered on Iran and furthering security and intelligence cooperation; Netanyahu: We have never had such a bond between the prime minister of Israel and an American president.

Prime Minister Netanyahu left for Washington on Saturday night for two scheduled meetings with President Trump centered on Iran, Syria and “tightening cooperation on security and intelligence matters”. The prime minister will give his annual address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington DC and meet with US officials on the sidelines. Most meetings will address “the Iranian aggression, Iran’s efforts to entrench militarily in Syria, how to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons,” and bilateral ties and cooperation in the Middle East.

Just a few days following President Trump’s historic announcement on the United States’ recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Netanyahu stated before boarding his flight, “I will speak with President Trump about the Golan [Heights] and his historic declaration, Syria, the continued pressure on Iran, the additional sanctions that they have already imposed and will impose, and the unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation between us.” He addressed Israel’s growing relations with foreign states, highlighting the strong bond between Israel and the United States under the Trump Administration, stating “we have never had such a bond between the prime minister of Israel and an American president. This is a very, very important asset for the State of Israel and it is important that it continues to serve us.”

The prime minister again thanked the Trump Administration for its ongoing efforts through sanctions combatting nuclear Iran. Both the US Treasury and State Departments announced another round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic on Friday, the latest sanctions targeting individuals and entities associated with Iran’s past nuclear efforts under the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, specifically in its defense sector. The sanctions were placed on “14 individuals and 17 entities under sanctions targeting proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters… we are designating the technical experts and critical entities linked to Iran’s previous nuclear weapons effort. These are entities and people who continue to operate in Iran’s defense sector… we’re exposing those people, those entities, and we are making them radioactive internationally.” It added that it “issued 25 Iran-related sanctions tranches targeting 960 individuals, entities, aircrafts and vessels.”

Netanyahu praised the sanctions over the weekend, stating “Iran continues to deceive the international community and lie to the world about its military nuclear program. The Iranian regime continues to conceal its capabilities and to strive for nuclear weapons. Iran endangers the peace of the Middle East and the entire world and must be blocked.”

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on the Iranian people to curse both Israel and the United States for its ongoing “economic war”. He stated, “Put all your curses on those who created the current situation- both the United States and the Zionists”. Rouhani announced he would pursue a criminal case against the United States for its sanctions which are contributing to the crippling of the Iranian economy while actively combatting its nuclear and advanced weapons programs.

On May 8, 2018, the Trump Administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (nuclear deal) with world powers. It placed its first round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in August. The sanctions included restrictions on purchasing US dollars, trade on gold and precious metals and the sale and trade of graphite and metals. The second round of sanctions were placed in November, targeting Iran’s exports and oil industries and the financial sector. Iran, however, continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, many of its actions and hidden programs in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and the nuclear deal. Iran is forbidden to produce, create or launch ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Photo: Andrea Izzotti/