Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu let his guard slip yesterday by announcing that he was intent on starting a war with Iran. The belligerent remark was made by the right-wing Likud leader on his official twitter account before setting out for a controversial conference in Warsaw, Poland about Iran’s “destabilising” influence in the Middle East.
The US – who are co-hosting the event – has tried desperately to present the conference as a genuine effort to address regional issues. Critics however denounced the two-day event as just another “Iran hate fest”, organised by the usual suspects. EU leaders made their feelings known by sending low level officials to a conference attended by US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as well as Netanyahu.
Netanyahu torched any notion that the so-called Middle East peace conference was not designed to focus on Iran, tweeting that he was going to Warsaw to start a war with Iran. The Israeli leader tweeted: “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”
The tweet was quickly deleted and replaced with a new one that used slightly softer language about “the common interest of combating Iran”. In the modified tweet, Netanyahu said: “this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combating Iran”.
The tweet, however, was not deleted and replaced fast enough to stop the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, from grabbing a screenshot and slamming Netanyahu. Zarif criticised the US-organised event using the hashtag: #WarsawCircus. “We’ve always known Netanyahu’s illusions. Now, the world – and those attending #WarsawCircus – know, too,” he tweeted.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 13, 2019
Earlier today – in the final day of the conference – Pompeo, standing beside Netanyahu, branded Iran a “malign influence” and said that challenging Tehran was the only way to ensure peace in the Middle East.
Iran is “a malign influence in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq” he said, adding that: “The three Hs, the Houthis, Hamas and Hizbollah [Hezbollah] — are real threats. There are others as well. But you can’t get peace in the Middle East without pushing back [against Iran].”
The comments appeared to depart dramatically from remarks Pompeo made at the opening of the summit, when he struck a more emollient tone by saying that the conference’s agenda would not be dominated by any one country.