In an unprecedented interview with London-based Arabic-language Saudi-owned news website Elaph, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that that his country does not want war with anyone, but will not allow Iranian platforms in Syria at any price, stressing that the Iranian regime is in its last days.
Liberman asserts in the interview, held ahead of meetings with senior American officials in Washington, that if Iran attacks Tel Aviv, Israel “will strike Tehran and destroy every Iranian military site that threatens Israel in Syria, whatever the price.”
The comments by Liberman were an unusually explicit Israeli threat to take military action within Iranian territory, and followed a surge of unprecedented confrontations between the countries’ forces in civil war-torn Syria.
An Israeli-Iranian showdown has loomed since Feb. 10, when Israel said an armed drone sent from a Syrian base penetrated its air space. Israel blew up the drone and carried out a raid on Syrian air defenses in which one of its F-16 jets was downed.
On April 9, an air strike killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps members at the Syrian base. Tehran blamed Israel and vowed unspecified retaliation, drawing Israeli counter-threats to broaden attacks on Iranian military assets in Syria.
The Israelis say their strikes aim to prevent Iran’s garrison in Syria from entrenching itself deeper in support of President Bashar al-Assad and linking with Hezbollah in Lebanon to form a broad front against them.
“Every outpost in which we see Iran positioning militarily in Syria, we will destroy, and we will not allow this no matter what the price,” Liberman told Elaph.
Regarding the Palestinians, Liberman said that the solution must be regional, not bilateral, and not in phases, but simultaneously, referring to the two-state solution, peace with the Arab states, the solution of the situation of the Israeli Arabs, and the exchange of land and population between Israel and the Palestinians, including the transfer of Arab areas such as the Triangle area in Israel from Israeli sovereignty to Palestinian sovereignty through the transfer of borders to the west.
In the wide-ranging interview, Lieberman said that he holds the Hamas terror group responsible for the casualties in Gaza. “Hamas uses children and women as human shields,” he said, accusing the group of responsibility for a number of casualties in recent weeks.
On relations between Israel and Arab countries, Liberman told Elaph that there is dialogue with Arab countries that don’t want to be named. “Things are moving in the right direction. There is an understanding on 75 percent of things.”
Liberman believes that the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement will lead to the collapse of Iran economically. This is what the Iranian regime – which has so far spent more than $13 billion in Syria and spends $2 billion a year on Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – fears.
“The seizure by the Iranian leadership and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of the country’s capabilities and resources, and the exclusion of the people, caused the economy to collapse, and led to the emergence of increasingly large protest movements,” Liberman said.
The defense minister also criticized the Arab MKs and accused them of supporting and supporting terrorism, describing them as “Israel’s enemies.” He pointed out that it is the duty of democracy to defend itself.