Israel must be prepared to stop Iran’s nuclear programme on its own if the international community fails to succeed, senior Israeli politician Naftali Bennett told the Jerusalem Post yesterday.
Bennett, who is also a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet and leader of the right wing Jewish Home party, made the comments prior to a meeting with Netanyahu in which politicians discussed world leaders’ progress on the Iranian issue.
“On the one hand, we need to persuade the US to apply paralysing sanctions of the highest level as soon as possible. Iran must be forced to choose between the nuclear path and a prosperous economy. Since the Iran deal, they haven’t been presented that option,” said Bennet.
“At the same time, Israel must prepare for the possibility that the US and the world won’t be convinced, by getting ready to defend ourselves by ourselves.”
The comments come just a day after Iran announced that it had successfully tested a new ballistic missile’s capability of reaching Israel; the weapon can carry multiple warheads and has a range of 2,000 kilometres.
Bennet also referenced Iran’s participation in the Syrian conflict, reiterating that Israel would not tolerate Tehran building a land corridor to Syria in order to further its aims in the region, maintaining that any such move would endanger Israel.
“We won’t allow that to happen, and we will speak by actions, not by words. The only thing that works in the Middle East is action,” he said.
Tensions between Iran and Israel have intensified in recent months amid Tehran’s involvement in Syria, and as the deadline for the US to certify that the 2015 nuclear deal is still in the American interest approaches next month.
Last week, Netanyahu highlighted the alleged dangers of Tehran’s nuclear programme during his speech at the United Nation’s General Assembly, threatening Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who he termed “the dictator of Iran”.
Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms.
US President Donald Trump emulated Netanyahu, calling the Iranian government a “murderous regime” that exports “violence, bloodshed and chaos” in the Middle East.
Iran responded angrily to Trump’s remarks; on Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif termed the speech “medieval” adding that it was “unworthy of a reply”.
Trump has made clear his opposition to the Iranian nuclear pact, which was negotiated during the term of former US President Barak Obama. In July, the US imposed new sanctions on Iran in response to its missile programme. Trump has also threatened to scrap or amend the pact; saying that a clause in the deal would enable Iran to further develop its nuclear capability when the deal expires in 2025.