19:33 GMT +318 March 2019
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    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem June 28, 2015.

    'Good Riddance': Netanyahu Takes Parting Shot at Iran's Departing FM Zarif

    © REUTERS / Atef Safadi
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    Earlier, a majority of Iran's parliament reportedly signed a letter asking President Hassan Rouhani to convince Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to remain at his post, following Zarif's surprise announcement on Monday that he intends to step down.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken a possible final parting shot at Mohammad Javad Zarif, a long-time rival of his in the diplomatic arena.

    "Zarif is gone, good riddance," Netanyahu wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

    "As long as I am here, Iran will not have nuclear weapons," the prime minister added.

    Zarif, one of the architects of the Iran nuclear deal, a landmark 2015 international treaty committing Tehran not to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief, unexpectedly announced his resignation on Monday.

    The foreign minister has yet to give reasons for his decision. On Monday, an aide to the foreign minister told Sputnik that foreign ministry personnel were unaware of the diplomat's decision to resign. On Tuesday, a member of parliament told Iranian media that a majority of lawmakers have sent President Rouhani a letter asking Zarif to remain at his post.

    During his time in office, Zarif regularly sparred with the Israeli PM. Earlier this month, after Netanyahu deleted a tweet about a "common interest between Israel and Arab powers of "war with Iran," Zarif blasted the leader over his "illusions." Late last year, Zarif accused Netanyahu and Israeli intelligence of trying to "kill" the Iran nuclear deal.

    In September 2018, following Netanyahu's allegations at the UN about secret Iranian nuclear sites, Zarif pointed out that Israel was the only country in the region "with a secret and undeclared nuclear weapons program, including an "*actual atomic arsenal.*"

    Iran and Israel have not maintained diplomatic relations since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Tensions between the two Middle Eastern powers have escalated in recent years amid alleged Israeli lobbying to get the US to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and continued Israeli airstrikes in Syria, which Israel has claimed target Iranian troops and facilities. Tel Aviv has accused Tehran of waging a proxy war in Syria and propping up hostile actors in Lebanon.

    Iran has denied the claims, insisting its military assistance to Syria was sent at Damascus' request to fight terrorism. The two countries periodically exchange in hostile rhetoric, with Iranian military officials regularly threatening to "remove the Zionist regime from the political map," and Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, warning that they would retaliate if attacked.

    Related:

    Iranian Media Speculates About Reasons for Zarif's Shock Resignation
    Most Iranian MPs Sign Letter Asking for Zarif to Remain Foreign Minister - MP
    US Policy Towards Iran to Remain Unchanged Despite Zarif Resignation - Pompeo
    Iranian President's Chief of Staff Denies Rouhani Accepted Zarif's Resignation
    Iranian FM Zarif Announces His Resignation
    West's Arms Sales to Mideast Turned Region Into 'Powder Keg' - Iran's Zarif
    Tags:
    reaction, remarks, resignation, Benjamin Netanyahu, Javad Zarif, Iran, Israel
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