Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due in London to discuss solutions to Iran’s continued nuclear armament.
The Israeli premier, scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Friday, is slated to depart on Thursday evening.
According to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, his meetings in London will focus on the need to formulate a “united international front” against Iran in order to stop its nuclear program.
The leaders will also discuss strengthening strategic ties between Israel and the United Kingdom, including increasing security and intelligence cooperation and the war in Ukraine as well as broad developments in the Middle East.
Earlier in the week, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was in London to press Jerusalem’s position about the Islamic Republic’s threat and bolster bilateral economic ties.
The Israeli diplomat signed an agreement called the 2030 Roadmap for UK-Israeli Bilateral Relations, which according to the British Foreign Office “contains detailed commitments for deepening cooperation across the breadth of the Israel-UK relationship, including on trade, cyber, science and tech, research and development, security, health, etc.”
Demonstrators face members of the security forces during the "Day of Shutdown", as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist coalition government presses on with its judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 23, 2023.
Netanyahu’s trip to London comes on the heels of his visit last week to Berlin, where he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and other senior German officials. As he stood with Scholz at the Holocaust memorial Platform 17 in Berlin, Netanyahu appeared to compare Iran with the Nazis.
Seemingly alluding to the Islamic Republic rhetoric which calls for the end of the ‘Zionist regime’, he said: “The calls to destroy the Jewish people have not ended. The main lesson we have learned is that when we are faced with such evil, we must stop the evil plans early to prevent a disaster."
A senior Israeli official, who spoke to Iran International on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu's recent visits to Europe aim to convey a strong message that Israel would act alone against Iran and would do whatever it deems necessary against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
“Recent trips to some European countries and meetings with the leaders of these countries are both a message for Europe and a direct message for the Iranian government," the source said, noting that Tehran has "received" this message.
Earlier in the month, Netanyahu met with Italian premier Giorgia Meloni when both called for bolstering bilateral ties. His meeting with Meloni came just after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced a resumption of diplomatic ties, a development that Netanyahu was widely criticized at home for failing to prevent.
On Wednesday, a senior Israeli diplomatic official told Axios that the Israeli government sees the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran not as a threat, but as an opportunity for Israel’s efforts to normalize relations with the Saudi kingdom.
The official who is directly involved in the efforts said that the war in Yemen has been a major "irritant" in US-Saudi relations in recent years, hampering efforts for Israel-Saudi normalization steps. ”The more relations between the US and Saudi Arabia improve, the easier it will be to work on promoting normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” the official said.
On Wednesday, Israel warned the Biden administration and several European countries that Tehran would be entering dangerous territory that could trigger an Israeli military strike if it enriches uranium above the 60-percent level.
According to an International Atomic Energy Agency report from late February, Iran has amassed 87.5 kilograms of 60% enriched uranium. Experts say if uranium is enriched to 90% weapons grade, it would be a sufficient quantity to produce at least one nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu has time and again threatened military action against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program as it enriches uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.
On March 9, Netanyahu told Iran International that Tehran is “dangerously moving forward” in its nuclear program, claiming that he returned to the government primarily to make sure that Iran cannot become a nuclear “threshold power”.
The PM’s whirlwind of foreign trips is seen by some as a distraction from the civil uprising happening at home as Israelis protest against proposed legal reforms which would make Netanyahu largely unaccountable. It would also give him a clear way out of criminal charges he faces, though he denies all counts.
The exact time and location of his departure is not yet known even to reporters who will be accompanying Netanyahu during the diplomatic visit to London because protesters have vowed to gather at the site and prevent him from boarding the plane.