TEL AVIV – Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Thursday in an interview with Saudi news outlet Elaph that if Iran strikes Tel Aviv, Israel would retaliate by striking Tehran and all Iranian bases in Syria.
“If they attack Tel Aviv, we will strike Tehran,” Liberman threatened.
Liberman’s remarks came amid an escalation of tensions between Tehran and Jerusalem following an April 9 strike against an Iranian drone facility in Syria, which Iran, Russia and some U.S. officials have claimed Israel was responsible for.
“We will destroy every site where we see an attempt by Iran to position itself militarily in Syria,” the defense minister told the London-based Arabic-language paper. “We will not allow it, at all costs.”
Nevertheless, Liberman said that he “wants calm” and was not seeking to “attack or fight anyone.”
“I want the situation in Tel Aviv, where the hotels are full and the cafes and restaurants are full around the clock, to continue, and this is what I also wish [for the Iranians] — calm, not war,” he added.
Liberman also slammed the Iran nuclear deal, drawing a comparison with the 1938 Munich Agreement, which instead of stopping Hitler only encouraged him.
“Europe is wrong again. In the past, the Europeans made a mistake when they signed the Munich Agreement in 1938 with Germany. We all know what happened and how Hitler tricked them,” he said.
“I think they are making the same mistake,” Liberman added.
He said the U.S. was right to follow through on President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the accord since doing so would see Tehran mired in an economic crisis and possibly result in the collapse of the regime itself.
However, he stated, “We will respect any decision taken by the U.S. administration in this regard,”
“The Iranian economy is collapsing. Look at the popular demonstrations against the unjust regime, the regime that led to economic collapse in Iran,” he said. “They know that the Iranian regime is in its last days and its collapse is near.”
Tehran has spent $13 billion in funding terror groups including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “And the Iranian people get nothing,” Liberman added.
In the coming weeks, Trump is due to decide if America will remain part of the Iran nuclear agreement or impose new sanctions against the regime. On Wednesday, Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting Washington, indicated that the US was likely to stay in the deal but seek additional measures to curb things like Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorist groups in the region.
“We will respect any decision taken by the US administration in this regard,” Liberman told Elaph.
The defense minister denied that Israel was responsible for assassinating Hamas drone maker Fadi al-Batsh in Malaysia last Saturday.
“Al-Batsh was not a scientist looking to bring electricity to Gaza. He was working on developing drones and making Hamas rockets more accurate,” Liberman said.
But, the defense minister said, “We did not kill him.”
Maybe it was “James Bond, like in the movies,” he joked.
Regarding the Palestinians, Liberman said the “two-state solution is out of the question today” and called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “lightweight” who did not have the ability to make peace.
He called for a “regional solution” that would see Israel establish ties with the entire Arab world.
“I invite [all Arab leaders] to come out to the public and visit Israel, as Anwar Sadat did, and we will welcome them all,” he said.