Israel’s Netanyahu could act against Iran’s “empire”
MUNICH – Reuters
Holding a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month, Netanyahu told the Munich Security Conference: “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.
Addressing the Munich event for the first time, Netanyahu urged gathered U.S. and European officials and diplomats to counter Iran immediately, displaying a map showing what he said was Iran’s growing presence in the Middle East.
He said Iran was increasing its power as the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) regains 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, using another acronym for ISIL.
“This is a very dangerous development for our region.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Feb. 18 that the shooting down of an Israeli jet after bombing an Iranian site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility,” reacting to Netanyahu.
“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbours,” Zarif told the Munich Security Confefence, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbours and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon.”
“The entire speech was trying to evade the issue,” Zarif said.
Tensions surged on Feb. 10 when anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria.
That was the most serious confrontation yet between Israel and Iranian-backed forces based across the border.