Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday met with Prime Minister of The Netherlands Mark Rutte at the Prime Minister’s office at the Kirya in Tel Aviv. The main points on their agenda included Europe’s energy needs and the ongoing unrest in Iran.
At the beginning of his meeting with Prime Minister Rutte, Lapid spoke about the upcoming signing of the controversial new maritime border agreement with Lebanon. He also declared that Israel will bring in a great deal of revenue from the sale of natural gas to Europe in the short term, but admitted that it was also incumbent upon the nations of the world to continue to develop alternative energies that do not produce greenhouse emissions in order to deal with the climate crisis.
“On Thursday, we are going to sign a historic agreement with Lebanon,” said Lapid. “And Israel will become in the near future a major supplier of [natural] gas to Europe. And in the meantime, we have to work together to find medium-term and long-term solutions for green energy and renewable energy.”
Yair Lapid may have called the new deal “historic,” but Israel’s opposition sees it in a different light.
On Sunday, a three-judge panel of Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a ruling dismissing 4 different petitions made by opposition parties attempting to block Yair Lapid’s outgoing government from implementing the agreement without first gaining approval of the deal in a vote of the full Knesset. Israel’s opposition leaders are highly critical of the ruling which allows the Cabinet to move forward with the Lebanon deal on its own authority with only one week to go until new Knesset elections are held.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has even gone so far as the charge that the government “surrendered” to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which had threatened to attack Israeli offshore natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea if production went ahead in new fields with first obtaining such an agreement with the Lebanese government.
In their meeting, Lapid and Rutte also discussed energy cooperation between Israel and Europe as part of the effort to assist the latter with its energy crisis. They spoke about ways of strengthening bilateral relations in various fields including energy and the climate.
And they discussed the Iranian issue, with an emphasis on the protests across Iran. Prime Minister Lapid expressed appreciation for the women of Iran in their struggle for basic rights.
On that matter, Yair Lapid stated that Israel and the Netherlands, “share a vision, we share values; we both believe in liberal democracy, liberal values, and this is the basis for the relations between our two countries, and these values are being tested today and there are some who fight them.”
“If we look at the demonstrations in Iran,” he added, “they are, I think, an inspiration to all of us. People who are willing to fight, especially women who are willing to fight for freedom and risk their lives for basic rights.”