Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday issued a rare condemnation of Iran’s remarks calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, Israel National News reports.
“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests. By the same token, we oppose attempts to view any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran. This is happening in Syria, Yemen and even the latest developments around the Palestinian issue, including Washington’s announcement of its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, are largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance,” Lavrov stressed, according to the Tass news agency.
Senior Iranian leaders, among them Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have frequently called for the Jewish state’s destruction. Most recently, Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps general tasked with overseeing Iran’s military activity in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, threatened last week to “wipe out” Israel.
While rebuking Iran, Lavrov criticized Israel and the U.S. for viewing “any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran,” such as in Yemen, where Tehran is backing the Shi’ite Houthi rebels.
“By the same token, we oppose attempts to view any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran. This is happening in Syria, Yemen and even the latest developments around the Palestinian issue, including Washington’s announcement of its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, are largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance,” he claimed.
The Russian foreign minister also claimed U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance.” Trump’s announcement was criticized at the time by Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said it may “finish prospects” for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Russia recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April. Trump stressed in his December 6 declaration that he was not taking a position on the city’s final borders.
Yet Israel considers Iran the biggest threat to the Jewish state and to the region. At a conference last month at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot pointed to five different fronts that he sees as Israel’s biggest security challenges – Lebanon, Syria, Judea and Samaria, Gaza and Sinai – but added that Iran has a hand in all those threats.
“Above those five fronts, there is one big and prominent threat, which is the Iranian threat. It is a multi-tiered threat, with the first and central aspect being their striving to achieve nuclear capabilities. The second aspect is their aspiration for regional hegemony and influence and their desire to create a Shi’ite crescent that extends from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon [in the north], as well as Bahrain, Yemen and Gaza in the south,” Eizenkot said.
The comments come amid rising tensions between Israel and Iran. Last week, an Iranian drone which infiltrated Israeli airspace from Syria was shot down by the Israel Air Force.
On Sunday, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held up what he said was a piece of the Iranian drone and stressed that Israel would act against Iran while reiterating his country’s position that Tehran was the world’s greatest threat. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later slammed Netanyahu in his own speech at the Munich conference.