'The voice of Israel will be heard'

Feeling confident on Iran, Lapid takes off for UN General Assembly

PM scheduled to meet Turkey’s Erdogan, UK’s Truss, Greece’s Mitsotakis, UN chief Guterres before Thursday address

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Yair Lapid departs for the UN General Assembly in New York, September 19, 2022 (Avi Ohayon / GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid departs for the UN General Assembly in New York, September 19, 2022 (Avi Ohayon / GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid took off for New York City shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, headed for the United Nations General Assembly.

“I am leaving tonight for a diplomatic visit that will include meetings with heads of state and with Jewish leaders,” said Lapid in a statement shortly before departing. “On Thursday I will represent Israel on the stage of the UN General Assembly.”

“On this stage, the voice of Israel, our right to security and our aspirations will be heard, as will Israel’s contributions to regional stability and to international cooperation,” he said.

During his address, Lapid is expected to speak at some length about the Iranian nuclear talks. Israeli officials are confident that no return to the JCPOA will be reached before the November midterm elections in the United States, and that it is increasingly likely that no deal will be reached at all.

Lapid is slated to meet in New York on Tuesday afternoon with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Israel appointed a new ambassador to Turkey on Monday, the first since 2018.

Lapid will meet with new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss on Wednesday afternoon.

He will also meet with American communal Jewish leaders and will participate in the annual gala of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, an organization that supports troops’ welfare, on Tuesday night.

Composite image shows Prime Minister Yair Lapid, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool; AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Lapid is seeking to hold a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday, according to Hebrew media reports. Multiple outlets citing unnamed senior officials said both sides were interested in holding the sit-down, as tensions rise in the West Bank ahead of the High Holidays in Israel.

Lapid’s office told The Times of Israel on Sunday that no meeting had been scheduled.

Lapid held his first meeting as premier with Abdullah in July at the Royal Palace in Amman. Though Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty and established full diplomatic relations in 1994, ties have been tense, with Jerusalem and Amman often clashing over matters regarding holy sites and the Palestinians.

Other meetings with world leaders are expected to be announced during the trip.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi waves to media and officials as he boards his plane while leaving Tehran’s Mehrabad airport to New York to attend annual UN General Assembly meeting, September 19, 2022. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Talks between Iran and world powers over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled, though Tehran and Washington have traded written responses in recent months on the finer points of the agreement, which would see sanctions lifted against Iran in exchange for it restricting its rapidly advancing nuclear program.

Iranian president  Ebrahim Raisi is also headed to New York, calling his appearance at the UN an opportunity to explain to the world about alleged “malice” that unspecified nations and world powers have toward Iran.

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