image Photo: Avi Ohayon (GPO) 

Lapid meets regional leaders in US

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid is in New York to attend the opening of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

By Erin Viner

The Israeli Premier held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the first meeting between the two nation’s heads of state since 2008.

It is also the first time Prime Minister and President came together since the restoration of full diplomatic bilateral ties and the return of Ambassadors and Consuls-General to Israel and Türkiye.

The two leaders discussed the fight against terrorism – particularly in Israel, said a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, as well as other regional developments.

Prime Minister Lapid expressed particular appreciation to President Erdoğan for intelligence cooperation at the time of Iran’s attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on Turkish soil.

In an apparent bid for Ankara to exercise influence with its close Palestinian allies, Prime Minister Lapid also “brought up the issue of missing and captive Israelis, and the importance of bringing them home,” said the statement.

IDF Sergeant First Class Oron Shaul and  Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin killed in action during Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict with Gaza. Their bodies were seized by the Islamist Hamas terror group for use as “bargaining chips” in any future prisoner swaps. Hamas is also holding captive Israeli civilians Avraham “Avera” Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom reportedly suffer mental impairment and crossed into the lawless Palestinian enclave at separate times on their own accord 2014-2015.

Lapid’s discussion with Erdoğan went on to focus on advancing bilateral economic, energy and tourist cooperation.

The Israeli leader also held his third meeting since March 2022 with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

The PMO described the talks as “an additional expression of the tightening of Israel-Jordan relations, and the continued strengthening of the personal connection between the Prime Minister and the King of Jordan.”

The two neighboring leaders discussed many matters of mutual interest, including the bolstering of economic-civilian cooperation.

The Israeli Premier also used the occasion to stress the “need for calming the situation on the ground and halting terrorism ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays,” and that Jerusalem “will not stand idly by and will fight terrorism directed against it in all its forms and will not allow harm to the security of its citizens.”

The Jordanian Monarch notably issued a joint call for calm with Israeli President Isaac Herzog ahead of last spring’s observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan amid concern of a wider escalation of the ongoing deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people between March and May 2022. The appeal followed the first-ever official visit to Jordan by an Israeli head of state.

As part of his diplomatic visit to New York, Prime Minister Lapid also spoke with United Nations  Secretary General António Guterres.

The Israeli leader stressed his expectation that the head of the world body “will act to rectify the discriminatory treatment of Israel at the United Nations, in particular stopping the activity of the Commission of Inquiry,” said the PMO, in reference to the UN Human Rights Council investigation into the 2021 Operation Guardian of the Walls conflict with  Palestinian terrorists in Gaza which Jerusalem insists is biased.

The two also discussed the fight against anti-Semitism and strategies to eradicate the scourge against the Jewish People.

Additionally, the Prime Minister emphasized the common need for the international community to battle terrorism.