Israel Ready to Act against 'Dangerous' Iran, Netanyahu Warns
Albanian Daily News
Published February 18, 2018
Benjamin Netanyahu holds up what he said was a piece of an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace. Photograph: AFP/Getty ImagesBenjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will act directly against Iran if necessary, not just its allies in the Middle East, reiterating his country's position that Tehran was the world's greatest threat.
As tensions increase in the Middle East over Iran's role in Syria and Yemen and as Donald Trump presses for a tougher approach on Tehran, Israel is seeking wider support for efforts to contain its regional nemesis.
Holding a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone brought down in Israeli airspace earlier this month, Israel's prime minister told the Munich security conference on Sunday: "Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.
"We will act if necessary, not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself," he said.
In his first address to the annual Munich event, which draws security and defence officials and diplomats from across Europe and the US, Netanyahu urged his audience to counter Iran immediately, displaying a map showing what he said was Iran's growing presence in the Middle East.
Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also addressed the conference, called Netanyahu's presentation "a cartoonish circus which does not even deserve a response".
Zarif accused Washington of using the conference to revive hysteria against Iran, and denied that Tehran was seeking hegemony in the Middle East.
Netanyahu said Iran was increasing its power as a US-led coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was regaining territory from militants."The unfortunate thing is that as Isis compresses and Iran moves in, it is trying to establish this continuous empire surrounding the Middle East from the south in Yemen but also trying to create a land bridge from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza," Netanyahu said.
"This is a very dangerous development for our region."
Among Israel's main concerns is Lebanon, where Hezbollah - the heavily armed Shia movement backed by Iran - is part of a coalition government. Israel last fought a war against Hezbollah in 2006. Tensions between Israel and Lebanon have increased, including over a maritime border dispute.
Lebanon's defence minister, Yacoub Riad Sarraf, who spoke after Netanyahu, said: "Watch out, we will defend ourselves ... we also have friends."
Tensions in the region surged on 10 February when anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria.
Netanyahu also reiterated his view, shared by Trump, that world powers needed to scrap or rewrite the 2015 accord with Tehran that curbs Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions in return for economic sanctions relief.
"It's time to stop them now," Netanyahu said. "They're aggressive, they are developing ballistic missiles, they're not inspecting, they have a free highway to massive enrichment."
France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, which signed the nuclear deal along with Iran and the US, say the accord cannot be renegotiated, that it is working and that Iran is allowing inspections.
The Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov said that scrapping the agreement was akin to choosing between war and peace, while John Kerry, the former US secretary of state who helped clinch the adeal, said it was wrong to assume that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the 15-year scope of the deal ended.
Kerry dismissed Netanyahu's contention that Iran would be on its way to having a nuclear arsenal in 10 years. "That's fundamentally not accurate," he said.
(Source: The Guardian)