Foreign Minister Yair Lapid clashed on Twitter with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday, after Tehran’s top diplomat threatened that “Zionism has no place in the future of the world.”
The exchange came amid talks between world powers and Iran on restoring the 2015 accord curbing Tehran’s nuclear program.
The trigger was an interview aired Friday to mark 10 years since Lapid entered politics. When asked by Channel 12 news if Israel has the ability to strike uranium enrichment facilities or weapons sites in Iran, he said: “Israel has capabilities, some of which the world, and even some experts in the field, cannot even imagine. And Israel will protect itself against the Iranian threat.”
Lapid also indicated Israel could attack Iran if necessary without informing US President Joe Biden’s administration, which is looking to rejoin the nuclear deal. Israel vocally opposed the accord, which is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted that “the disturbing remarks of the foreign minister of the fake Israeli regime against the great nation of Iran” were a pipe dream.
“We will forcefully and rationally defend the rights, interests and progress of the Iranian people,” he wrote in Persian, according to a translation by IFP media wire.
“Zionism has no place in the future of the world,” Amir-Abdollahian added.
Iranians should know that it is their regime that is making their lives miserable. The State of Israel is strong and will not allow its citizens to be harmed.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid???? (@yairlapid) January 4, 2022
On Tuesday, Lapid retweeted Amir-Abdollahian’s post, with a response to it in Hebrew, English and Persian.
“The extremist Iranian regime threatens Israel with annihilation but will continue to lose this battle,” Lapid wrote in his English tweet. “Their failed leadership is destroying Iran from within. In the words of the Iranian poet Saadi: ‘He whose essence is evil, will forever remain so.’
“Iranians should know that it is their regime that is making their lives miserable. The State of Israel is strong and will not allow its citizens to be harmed.”
Israel has long seen Iran’s nuclear program as a threat and seeks a hardline approach by the US and the international community to the current nuclear talks.
Israel has reportedly approved a budget of some NIS 5 billion ($1.5 billion) to be used to prepare the military for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program. It includes funds for various types of aircraft, intelligence-gathering drones and unique armaments needed for such an attack, which would have to target heavily fortified underground sites.
A senior US official said last month that Israeli and American military leaders are set to discuss possible military drills to practice destroying Iranian nuclear facilities in a potential worst-case scenario if nuclear talks fail.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, but Iranian officials regularly threaten to annihilate Israel. In a recent drill, Revolutionary Guards forces blew up a target set up to resemble Israel’s Dimona nuclear complex.
Last month, Iran’s state-affiliated Tehran Times issued a threat to Israel, publishing a map of the country riddled with markers as a reminder that Iranian forces can ostensibly strike anywhere they want.
Alongside a front-page opinion piece headlined “Just one wrong move!” the map showed scores of markers along the length and breadth of the country.