Deputy FM Says Israel Not Seeking Replacement for U.S.

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses leaders of the Russian Jewish community in Moscow on Thursday. Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin is at his side. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses leaders of the Russian Jewish community in Moscow on Thursday. Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin is at his side. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Israel affirmed allegiance on Wednesday to its special relationship with the United States, now tested by pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman appeared to question the strength of the tie.

Any notion that Lieberman’s comments, in a speech on Wednesday, meant that Israel was looking for new friends at the expense of its bonds with its longtime main ally and military aid provider was challenged by Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

Elkin was in Moscow with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin against a prospective deal between world powers and Iran that is now being weighed at talks in Geneva.

“No, I would not suggest reaching far-reaching conclusions that we will now replace our main ally, and that that is the aim of the visit,” Elkin told Israeli Army Radio from the Russian capital. “Even when there are disagreements over this issue or another … there is no one who can take the place of the Americans,” he said.

Lieberman told an economic conference this week, “It should be understood … that the link with our greatest strategic ally, the United States, its link with Israel, is waning.”

It was time, he added, for Israel to shift from a “unidirectional foreign policy” toward a “diverse policy” of seeking better relations with other countries, which he did not name.

In a meeting with Russian Jewish leaders in Moscow on Thursday, Netanyahu addressed the Iran issue, saying, “I pledge Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.”

Earlier, Netanyahu cited a vicious anti-Israel speech by Iran’s supreme leader as fresh proof of why Tehran must not obtain a nuclear weapon.

“Yesterday, Iran’s supreme leader, Khamenei, said, ‘Death to America, death to Israel.’ He said that Jews are not human beings. Sound familiar?” Netanyahu asked.