The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video of a discreet conversation among top diplomats from Arab countries from a behind-the-doors discussion at the Warsaw Middle East conference on his official YouTube channel, The Times of Israel reports.
The clip, which Netanyahu’s staffers reportedly sent to several journalists but later deleted, allegedly shows UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir lambasting Iran for destabilising the situation in the Middle East, siding with Israel.
Asked about the Israeli strike in Syria against alleged Iranian targets there, the UAE’s chief diplomat apparently justified the move, being heard to say: “Every nation has the right to defend itself when it’s challenged by another nation”.
His counterpart from Bahrain reportedly blamed Iran for hampering the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he noted that they “would have been much closer today in solving this issue with Israel” if it were not for the Islamic Republic. He said that Iran posed a “challenge”, not letting others move further “anywhere, be it Syria, be it Yemen, be it Iraq”.
“We grew up talking about the Israel-Palestine issue as the most important issue…But then, at a later stage, we saw a bigger challenge, we saw a more toxic one — in fact the most toxic one in our history — that came from the Islamic Republic”, the Bahraini official said.
The man, who is reportedly identified as Adel al-Jubeir, who served as Saudi foreign minister until recently, accused Iran of destabilisation in the region as well as “supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and undercutting the Palestinian Authority”.
“We cannot stabilize the region without peace between Israelis and Palestinians [but] wherever we go we find Iran’s evil behaviour”, the diplomat said, according to the footage, as he also took aim at Hezbollah. “One of the biggest jokes is when you say Hezbollah has a political wing and a military wing. There is no such thing”.
Another point of criticism by the Saudi diplomat was the so-called Iran nuclear deal (2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which lifted anti-Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran maintaining the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme).
“Meanwhile, we in the region are in the brunt, for us 10 years is the blink of an eye… So, Iran ends up with a nuclear weapon — it is theoretically capable of doing one very quickly because no limits on enrichment — who is going to suffer? We are”, he said, also accusing Tehran of giving ballistic missiles to the Houthis [in Yemen] and Hezbollah.
He called on people to be “serious about how to deal with the problem of Iran”.
Ahead of the conference, Netanyahu already sparked outrage in Iran with a now-deleted tweet on the "PM of Israel" account mentioning a meeting with Arab nations and a "common interest of war with Iran". While the Israeli prime minister had to explain whether it was a misleading translation, a Freudian slip, or something else, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to blast the Israeli prime minister’s message along with his “illusions”.