Israel could act against Iran itself says Netanyahu

Vastavam web: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel could act against Iran itself, not just its allies in the Middle East, after border incidents in Syria brought the Middle East foes closer to direct confrontation.Iran mocked Netanyahu’s tough words, saying Israel’s reputation for “invincibility” had crumbled after one of its jets was shot down following a bombing run in Syria.“Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” he said. “We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself.”

For his part, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called Netanyahu’s presentation “a cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response”.“Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said, accusing Israel of using “aggression as a policy against its neighbours” by regularly carrying out incursions into Syria and Lebanon.Israel has accused Tehran of seeking a permanent military foothold in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in civil war entering its eighth year.

The tough words on both sides at the international event come as Israel is increasingly seeking to cooperate with Sunni Arab states that share its worries about Shi‘ite Iran. For months, Netanyahu has touted what he describes as unprecedented levels of behind-the-scenes cooperation.“The fact that we have this newfound relationship with the Arab countries – something that I would not have imagined in my lifetime – this is not what they call a spin,” Netanyahu said, during a question and answer session after his speech.Among Israel’s main concerns is Lebanon, where the heavily armed Iran-backed Shi‘ite militia Hezbollah is part of a coalition government. Israel last fought a war against Hezbollah in 2006. Tension between Israel and Lebanon has increased as Hezbollah has gained strength fighting in Syria, and the two countries also have a maritime border dispute.

Israel has carried out air strikes in Syria against suspected Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah and has accused Tehran of planning to build missile factories in Lebanon.Netanyahu also reiterated his view, shared by U.S. President Donald Trump, that world powers needed to scrap or rewrite the 2015 nuclear 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 (uranium) enrichment,” he said of the fuel needed for nuclear weapons.

Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov said scrapping the agreement was akin to choosing between war and peace. John Kerry, the former U.S. secretary of state who helped clinch the agreement, said it was wrong to assume Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the 15-year scope of the deal ends.