Speed Reads

foreign affairs

Biden and Israel's Yair Lapid split on how to deal with Iran

President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid reiterated during a joint press conference Thursday in Jerusalem that they will not let Iran become a nuclear power, but they aren't on the same page when it comes to dealing with the country.

Biden wants Iran to rejoin the nuclear deal that was brokered during the Obama administration and ditched by former President Donald Trump in 2018. He said the U.S. has let Iranian leadership know what to do in order to return to the deal, but they have yet to respond. "When that will come, I'm not certain," Biden said. "But we're not going to wait forever."

On Wednesday, Biden said using force against Iran is the last resort, and he told reporters on Thursday he continues to "believe that diplomacy is the best way" to approach the country.

As for Lapid, he is certain that "words" and "diplomacy" don't scare Iran, adding, "the only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force." Still, he knows the U.S. and Israel are in full agreement that Iran cannot become nuclear. "I don't think there's a light between us," he said, adding, "we will not, let me say it again, we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon."

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi blamed the U.S. and "regional allies" for inflaming tensions in the Middle East, Iran's state-run news agency IRNA reports, and declared that "any mistake by the Americans and their allies in the region and the world will be met with a harsh and regrettable response."

Biden is on his first trip to Israel as president, and will visit Saudi Arabia on Friday. Lapid asked Biden to pass along a message to the Arab leaders he will meet in Jeddah: "Our hand is outstretched for peace." He called Biden's visit "important for Israel and the region. For our security and for the future prosperity of the Middle East."