Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was horrendous, but backed the Saudi government, Axios reports.
“What happened at the Istanbul consulate was horrendous and it should be duly dealt with. But at the same time, it is very important for the stability of the region and the world that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”
This is the first time for the Prime Minister of Israel to publicly address the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The murder has sparked an international diplomatic crisis, so the Saudi government is trying to fend off the West’s pressure campaign.
According to Netanyahu, however, Saudi Arabia is not the problem, Iran is. Israeli Prime Minister praised his government for helping uncover two alleged terrorist attacks on European soil; one in Paris, and one in Copenhagen.
These attacks, Netanyahu claims, were designed and orchestrated by Iran’s secret service.
“Blocking Iran is at the top of our agenda for security, not merely for Israel but I believe for Europe and the world as well,” he said, “the larger problem I believe is Iran, and we have to make sure that Iran does not continue the malign activities.”
Netanyahu has maintained a hardline stance against Iran. In a recent interview, he called Iran an “existential” threat, while praising Saudi Arabia for aiding Israel in curbing Iran’s alleged efforts to create a nuclear weapon, according to Haaretz.
In April this year, Netanyahu held a press conference where he alleged that Iran had a “secret nuclear weapons” program.
Citing experts on Iran, Quartz pointed out that Netanyahu’s alarmist presentation was carefully timed, aimed to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to maintain his pressure campaign against the country, adding that Iran’s alleged “secret nuclear weapons” program – as Netanyahu put it – is actually a 15-year-old weapons program the international community is more than familiar with.
The publication also noted that the same government officials and television pundits who had pushed for the Iraq invasion – which resulted in the death of 4,000 American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis – praised Benjamin Netanyahu’s misleading and sensationalized presentation.
“Don’t let Netanyahu talk America into yet another Middle East war,” The Hill‘s opinion contributor and former Democratic Party representative John F. Tierney warned in February.
Yesterday, citing officials briefed on the matter, the Washington Post reported that Netanyahu has reached out to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him to support Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s government in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.