By Ben Flanagan, Arab News—
LONDON: Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran would be “infinitely more dangerous” than North Korea should it develop nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s aim for “world domination.”
Netanyahu, speaking at the Chatham House think-tank in London, pointed to Iran’s backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq.
“The one potent force in militant Islam that has emerged is Iran. And it is devouring one nation after the other. It is doing so either by direct conflict, or more usually by using proxies,” Netanyahu said.
“The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before.”
Pointing to a large map behind the stage at Chatham House, Netanyahu illustrated Iran’s apparent plan for a so-called Shiite crescent extending to Israel’s borders.
“They have actually a conception of world domination that should have gone out the window with the last religious wars,” he said.
“There’s something … irrational and dangerous in such a cause.”
Netanyahu said a “new alliance” has emerged between his country and the Sunni Arab states to combat an “irrational and dangerous” Iran.
Most Arab states do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, but Netanyahu said ties have been growing stronger due to the perceived threat from Tehran.
“There is something that I wouldn’t have expected in my lifetime, but we are working very hard to establish, and that is an affective alliance between Israel and the moderate Sunni states to (combat) the aggression from Iran,” he told the audience in London.
Netanyahu said that the “new alliance between Israel and the Sunni states” was not dependent on peace with Palestinians, but could lead to it.
He described the shift in Arab-Israeli relations as “dramatic,” adding that “attitudes to Israel are mellowing considerably” in the Arabian Gulf amid heightened tensions with Tehran.
States such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have accused Iran of meddling in other countries’ affairs and see Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism.
“When Arabs and Israelis are saying the same thing, it’s worth paying attention to it,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s lecture came the day after he joined his British counterpart Theresa May at a dinner celebrating the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
The controversial document offered Britain’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Netanyahu said on Friday he hoped a US peace initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will work.
Asked if he felt now was the moment for peace in the region, noting US President Donald Trump’s involvement in peace efforts, he said: “Hope so.”
“What’s being discussed now is an American initiative. Obviously we make our interests and our concerns known to Mr.Trump. He’s coming with a sort of refreshing ‘can-do’ … they’re trying to think out of the box,” Netanyahu said.