World running out of time to deal with Iran, UK’s Johnson tells Herzog

Israeli president calls on allies in P5+1 to stand firm against Tehran in upcoming negotiations; British prime minister condemns Hamas terror attack in Jerusalem

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) shakes hands with Israeli President Isaac Herzog ahead of talks inside Number 10 Downing Street in central London on November 23, 2021 during the Israeli president's three-day visit. (JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) shakes hands with Israeli President Isaac Herzog ahead of talks inside Number 10 Downing Street in central London on November 23, 2021 during the Israeli president's three-day visit. (JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP)

President Isaac Herzog urged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take a hard line against Iran in talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear accord, at a meeting between the two leaders in London Tuesday.

Herzog said Israel needed its allies to firmly oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as the P5+1 group of world powers prepare to restart negotiations in Vienna next week aimed at reviving the multilateral nuclear accord they signed in 2015. The P5+1 comprises China, Russia, France, the US and the UK plus Germany.

“We are looking forward for our allies in the P5+1 to be as tough as possible because we do not believe that they [the Islamic Republic] are operating in a bona fide manner, and only if all options are on the table may things move in the right direction,” Herzog said.

Johnson warned that “the world doesn’t have much time” on Iran, echoing concerns by leaders in Israel and the West over Tehran’s rapidly mounting uranium stockpile amid moribund nuclear negotiations.

Israel is opposed to the US returning to the tattered nuclear accord, but has also sought to press for more safeguards and curbs on Iranian actions should an agreement take shape.

Herzog earlier discussed Iran with a group of 100 British lawmakers on Monday. He urged the group to make sure their government remains tough ahead of the upcoming Iran negotiations.

Herzog also thanked Johnson for the UK’s decision to proscribe the entire Hamas organization as a terror group.

“This is a very important message to terror organizations and global radicals trying to undermine the situation in the Middle East,” Herzog said.

The British prime minister said his government’s recent listing of the entire Hamas organization as a terror group had been the right move and condemned a Hamas terror attack in Jerusalem on Sunday that killed an Israeli man on his way to work.

“I think it is the right decision. It was a difficult and controversial decision but I think the right thing, and by the way a decision that I think was almost immediately vindicated by the appalling incident that we saw in Israel. Terrible,” Johnson said.

Last week, London announced that it was designating the entirety of Hamas as a terror organization and outlawing support for the group. Herzog thanked the British lawmakers on Monday for the decision.

President Isaac Herzog meets with representatives of British Jewish organizations in London on November 23, 2021 (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Herzog, a former head of the Jewish Agency, also met Tuesday with leaders of Britain’s Jews, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Union of Jewish Students, and UJIA.

“Michal and I have put the issue of the relations between the State of Israel and world Jewry as a top item on our priority list, and we intend to invest a lot of time and effort to make sure that all Jews, wherever they are, whatever their denomination, whatever they believe in or don’t believe in, feel at home in the State of Israel,” Herzog said, according to a statement from his office, referring to his wife.

“We want to tell the British Jewish community that you are going to be a central pillar in this activity because you are an exemplary community.”

Earlier Monday, Herzog met with Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, for a discussion centered on climate change, regional threats, and Holocaust education.

Britain’s Prince Charles, left, welcomes Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Highgrove House, Tetbury, England, Monday November 22, 2021. (Ben Birchall/Pool Photo via AP)

Also on Monday, Herzog met with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and took part in a tribute dinner to former British chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who died last year.

On Sunday, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hosted Herzog at the Stamford Bridge stadium, as part of the Premier League soccer club’s campaign against antisemitism. The Russian-Israeli businessman traveled to London as an Israeli citizen and spent around two hours on Sunday morning at the Imperial War Museum London to see the Holocaust Galleries he helped fund with donations.

Herzog highlighted concerns about discrimination in sports during an address to the audience in a suite at Chelsea’s stadium.

The president and his wife are set to return to Israel on Tuesday evening.

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