Arab ministers defend Israel, attack Iran

Ron Cantor —  February 21, 2019 — Leave a comment
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While many Muslim majority nations traditionally have spoken harshly against Israel, lately many of these countries are softening their rhetoric—at least in private—a positive trend we’ve been reporting here. 

But solid evidence of that came in a video that shows three top Arab leaders — from United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia — speaking against Iran and favorably toward Israel while at the Warsaw Middle East summit earlier this month. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office leaked the video. 

“Every nation has the right to defend itself, when it’s challenged by another nation, yes,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in response to a question about Israeli strikes in Syria. 

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa blamed Iran for negatively affecting the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Netanyahu stand with Arabs leaders and US Vice Present Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Poland.
Photo Credit: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo/Twitter.

“We grew up talking about the Israel-Palestine issue as the most important issue,” he said. “But then, at a later stage, we saw a bigger challenge, we saw a more toxic one — in fact the more toxic one in our history — that came from the Islamic Republic.” 

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir also blamed Iran for destabilizing the region. 

“Look at the Palestinians: Who is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and undercutting the Palestinian Authority? Iran,” he said. “We cannot stabilize the region without peace between Israelis and Palestinians [but] wherever we go we find Iran’s evil behavior.” 

Jubeir criticized the Iranian nuclear deal which he said will enable Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and terrorize its neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia. 

“So, Iran ends up with a nuclear weapon … who is going to suffer? We are,” he said. “Iran gives ballistic missiles to the Houthis [in Yemen] and Hezbollah. Who’s going to suffer? We do, in the region. And so people have to be serious about how to deal with the problem of Iran.” 

The 25-minute clip was from a closed panel discussion. It was uploaded to YouTube and the link sent to several Israeli reporters, but was taken down after reporters published the clip. 

Some Israelis, like left-winger Tzipi Livni, were critical of the prime minister for leaking the clip as it could endanger relations with Arab states. 

“The filming and leaking by [Netanyahu] of statements made in a closed room, for internal election politics, is unconscionable,” she said. There is no question that the leaked tape was meant to show Israelis what a good job their Prime Minister has done, as elections are scheduled for April 9th. Despite the motive, the change in attitude from Arab nations towards Israel is a stunning development.  

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