Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Thursday called on the international community to back up its warnings against Iran’s nuclear program with an “effective military threat,” further upping Jerusalem’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric against Tehran.
The Islamic Republic is the “main threat to the region,” he said, listing the regime’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons capability, its ballistic missiles program and its support for terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“The US sanctions against Iran are important and effective and the maximum pressure campaign must be continued,” he said, speaking at the Jerusalem Post’s Diplomatic Conference in the capital. He noted that the current civil unrest in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon shows that the economic pressure is working.
“The publics in the Arab states and in Iran itself are rising up against Iran’s brutal oppression,” the foreign minister said.
“Iran has recently restarted its nuclear program. Now is the time for the world, led by the United States, to have an effective military threat against the Iranian regime, if it will continue its nuclear program,” he added.
Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have long urged the international community to join the US administration in enacting harsh sanctions on Iran. But so far, they have not explicitly urged other countries to issue threats of military intervention.
Early Wednesday morning, the Israeli army attacked Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria after rockets were fired into Israel the day before. “I have made it clear that whoever hurts us — we will hurt him,” Netanyahu said Wednesday. “We will continue to vigorously maintain the security of Israel.”
Katz thanked the IDF for “acting to defend Israel by striking Tuesday night against Iranian targets in Syria and against Syrian targets who threatened them.
“That is what we have always done and what we will continue to do in the future,” he declared.
Katz, who is also intelligence minister, then briefly spoke of his effort to sign “non-belligerency agreements” between Israel and Arab governments in the Gulf.
“We have no conflict with the Gulf states, and we have common interests in the field of security against the Iranian threat as well as in developing many joint civilian initiatives,” he said.
“Israel has a lot of capabilities in many areas, including high-tech, innovation, agriculture and water technology, which can help the Gulf states. and the Gulf states have many capabilities that can help Israel as well.”
Katz said that he and senior administration officials “decided to set up joint teams to advance” this initiative.