Iranian armed forces members march during the annual military parade in Tehran, Iran September 22, 2018.
(photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Israel does not rule out acting militarily inside Iran’s border if it feels that is necessary for its security, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
Asked at an annual appearance before the foreign press if Israel would act inside Iran’s borders, Netanyahu said, “Our redline is our survival. We do what is necessary to protect Israel against the Iranian regime that openly calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state.”
Pressed if that means Israel is not ruling out engaging Iran inside Iran, Netanyahu replied: “I’m not ruling out doing anything we need to defend ourselves. For the moment, Israel is the only military in the world that is directly engaging Iranian forces. We are doing that in Syria and pulling them back.”
Iran, Netanyahu said, is “interested in bringing their army 1,500 km. from Iran to our borders, bringing in missiles with a range of 400 to 700 km., which covers all of Israel; and bringing in 80,000 Shia militias with the express purpose of destroying us.”
Netanyahu said his policy has always been “to stop bad things when they are small. So we meet Iran head-on in Syria, and if we need to, will do whatever we need to do protect ourselves, as you would.”
Asked about whether the role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been tarnished in the Mideast as a result of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi
in Turkey, and what that means for Israel, Netanyahu said that what happened in Istanbul was “horrific,” and that each country with ties with Saudi Arabia will deal with it in its “own way.”
But, he said, this needs to be balanced by a realization of the importance of the role Saudi Arabia plays in the Middle East, “because if Saudi Arabia is destabilized, the world will be destabilized – not the Middle East, the world would be destabilized. And I think that has to be taken into account.”
Netanyahu also decried the hypocrisy of countries such as Iran – which he said hangs gays, journalists and dissidents in the public square – preaching morality on this issue.
Each year the Government Press Office hosts an event for foreign journalists with the prime minister, and this year it was held at the Shalva Center in Jerusalem. Five questions were allowed, after Netanyahu delivered a presentation on how Israel’s ties with the world have blossomed because of its security expertise, intelligence and technology.
One of those question had to do with the police investigations against him – how worried he is over what the attorney-general will decide regarding an indictment, and how this affects his political calculations.
“I believe nothing will come of it, because there is nothing in it,” repeating his well-worn mantra on the subject.” And it does not affect my support, because people believe what I said, and we are doing the right things for the country.”
He added that he believes the “Israeli public will also express that when the time comes.”
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