Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's claim that Israel is behind the anti-government street protests in the country is “not only false, it's laughable,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, breaking his silence on the developments in Iran since the protests began on Thursday.
Diplomatic officials said Netanyahu had kept silence on the protests because of a concern that whatever he would say would be manipulated by the regime in Tehran to the detriment of the protestors, but that he decided to speak out when Rouhani publicly blamed Israel.
Rouhani on Monday was quoted by state media as blaming the United States and Israel for the protests.
“Our success in the political arena against the United States and the Zionist regime was unbearable to (Iran’s enemies). Iran’s success in the region was unbearable to them. Don’t you expect that they would seek revenge? Don’t you think they would provoke some people?” Rouhani said.
In the video, which appeared on Netanyahu’s Facebook page and was also subtitled in Farsi and placed on his Farsi page, the prime minister also slammed the Europeans for largely remaining silent in the wake of the protests
“Sadly, many European governments watch in silence as heroic young Iranians are beaten in the streets,” he said. “That's just not right. And I for one will not stay silent.”
While US President Donald Trump has tweeted his support for the protestors five times since the unrest began, similar sentiments have not been expressed by some top European diplomats.
Most glaring is the silence of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who has not tweeted at all about the protests, even though she often tweets in real time about events around the world. For instance, she tweeted against US President Donald Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital the day before, the day of, and the day after Trump’s announcement.
And German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who retweeted his ministry's statement against the Trump Jerusalem decision a day after it was announced, has still not related to the developments in Iran on his twitter account.
In Netanyahu’s video — the fourth in which addressed the Iranian people directly since his speech at the UN in September which he also turned to the Iranian people and spoke a few words in Farsi — the premier said that the Iranian people “deserve better” than what they are getting from the current regime.
“Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets because they seek freedom, they seek justice, they seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades,” he said.
“Iran’s cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people. That is why they jail students. That is why they ban social media.”
Netanyahu said he was confident that “fear will not triumph, because the Iranian people are smart, they are sophisticated. They are proud. Today they risk everything for freedom.”
Repeating a theme he has used in all of his videos regarding Iran, as well as in his speech at the UN, Netanyahu said, “This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us. But they won't succeed. And when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again. I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom.”
Israel and Iran enjoyed a good relationship until the Islamic revolution in the country in 1979.