Israeli leaders cast Iran as a global enemy, not just the nemesis of the Jewish state, in an ongoing conference this week in Herzliya, in hopes of raising international awareness on the threat a nuclear Tehran poses.
“Iran aspires to become a regional hegemony and then a global one, exporting its radical ideology in which human rights are destroyed, members of the LGBTQ community are hung, women are oppressed and resources are redirected to the regime,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said at the Reichman University’s Institute for Policy and Strategy conference in Herzliya.
During his own address at the conference, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett concurred saying that “Iran is really the whole world’s battle against a radical Islamist regime that seeks a Shi’ite hegemony under a nuclear umbrella.”
“We hope the world won’t blink, but even if they do, we don’t plan to blink,” Bennett said.
Bennett also took a swipe at Netanyahu saying Israel “fell asleep” after the 2015 JCPOA.
“The mistake we made after the first nuclear deal in 2015 will not repeat itself,” said Bennett. “With all the noise beforehand, from the moment the deal was signed, it affected us like a sleeping pill. Israel simply fell asleep on duty. We occupied ourselves with other things.”
Bennett noted that Iran has essentially “surrounded Israel” with proxy groups on both the northern and southern borders.
“The State of Israel must maintain its capabilities to act and its freedom of action, in every situation and under any political circumstances,” he said.
During the conference, Gantz also exposed two Iranian drone bases used to launch UAV attacks on maritime targets and even ferry weapons across thousands of kilometers.
“As such, this capability is already endangering Sunni countries, international forces in the Middle East and countries in Europe and Africa,” Gantz said.
One UAV was even intercepted near Beit She’an in Israel in 2018, he said.
“In that case, Iran was using the drone for something we’ve never seen before: transferring weaponry to its proxies for use in terror attacks. The UAV was launched by Iranian emissaries in Syria, carrying an explosive package of TNT,” he said. “Its destination was, according to our assessments, terror operatives in Judea and Samaria. Iran not only uses UAVs to attack, but also to deliver weapons to its proxies.”
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who has criticized Bennett for not being tough enough on Iran since he took office in June – was panned at the Reichman conference by the former head of Israel’s military intelligence who said Bibi was a one-man show when it came to Israeli policy on Iran.
“The Iranian issue was privatized to one person,” Amos Yadlin said during a panel discussion. “The strategic discussions did not take place.”
Yadlin further argued that the United States should not have left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 and that now Iran is in a much better position to negotiate.
“The Iranians are returning to the negotiations [now] and are returning strengthened against an adversary that is determined to return to the 2015 agreement,” he said regarding next week’s talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and placed heavy economic sanctions on Tehran. Current president, Joe Biden, has been eager to return the U.S. to the deal since he took office in January.
Netanyahu was known for his tough stance on Iran and, during his 12 years in power, Israel was suspected in several military strikes on Iranian targets, nuclear facilities and in the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist in November 2020.
In 2012, Netanyahu warned the U.N. General Assembly that Israel’s red line would be reached if Iran achieved one bomb’s worth of 20% enrichment, triggering an Israeli military response.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS