Israel seeks other allies as U.S. ties weaken over Iran
FM Lieberman said Israel should stop moaning and instead seek partners not dependent on Arab money
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that his country needs to seek partners other than Washington, heightening tensions with its closest ally as Iran nuclear talks come to a head.
“The link between Israel and its main strategic partner the United States has weakened,” Agence France-Presse quoted Lieberman as saying.
He added: “You can understand that. The Americans have got too may challenges - North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and they've got their own domestic economic problems.”
The hawkish Lieberman, who is also known for his blunt-talk, returned to office earlier this month after seeing off graft charges.
“We need to stop demanding, complaining, moaning and instead seek countries that are not dependent on money from the Arab or Islamic world and who want to cooperate with us in the field of innovation,” he spoke as major powers, including the United States, sought to seal a deal with Iran on its controversial nuclear program.
However, the chief diplomat did not elaborate on what alternative partners he had in mind but he has not hesitated in the past to speak out against Washington when he has considered it to be acting against Israeli interests.
Israel has expressed its disdain and deep skepticism over the potential deal with Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday also reiterated that there needs to be a “real” solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, AFP reported.
Putin said that the two men discussed the Iranian nuclear standoff “in detail” at Kremlin talks which overran by several hours. But the Israeli premier was insistent that only the strongest of diplomatic solutions was acceptable for his country.
Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow was seen as a last-minute bid to influence an emerging nuclear deal with Iran strongly opposed by the Jewish state and being discussed by world powers and Iranian diplomats in Geneva.
Israel regards Iran as its main strategic threat and is determined to keep it under crippling economic sanctions, despite mounting diplomatic momentum for a deal.
The possible Iran deal is not only hurting Israeli-U.S. relations, but also with Washington’s longtime ally, Saudi Arabia.
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Riyadh this month, he received an expected earful over Washington’s outreach to Iran.
On his visit, Kerry assured Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that Washington’s “deep relationship” is solid and enduring.
On Monday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry dismissed a report by the Sunday Times that it was cooperating with Israel.