Iran's Zarif Warns: Great Risk of War With Israel

Also speaking at Munich Security Conference, Qatari foreign minister says no ties with Israel until Palestinian issue resolved

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2019.
Kerstin Joensson,AP

Iran's foreign minister accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its behavior and that of the United States was increasing the chances of a clash in the region. 

"Certainly, some people are looking for war ... Israel," Mohammad Javad Zarif said at the Munich Security Conference. 

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif also criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region. Zarif accused Israel of violating Syria and Lebanon's sovereignty.

Zarif also adressed Iran's military presence in Syria, saying that the Islamic Republic was invited there by the Assad regime for one sole purpose: Fighting terror.

"The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law. Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, U.S. behavior is putting international law on the shelf," Zarif said.

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told world leaders at the Middle East summit in Warsaw that "Iranian aggression is the main factor undermining the Middle East and the entire world and that we must prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons and block its military entrenchment in Syria." 

Also speaking in Munich on Sunday, Qatar's foreign minister said his country will not establish diplomatic relations with Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

"Qatar will not have diplomatic relations with Israel until the Palestinian issue is resolved. We are committed to this before anything else," Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said.

Al Thani stressed his country would support any peace plan presented by the United States "so long as it is just also for the Palestinians."

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said earlier Sunday that Tehran wanted to establish close ties with all countries in the Middle East, where Iran has been involved in proxy wars with Saudi Arabia for decades. 

"Iran is ready to work with regional states to preserve security in the Middle East ... Our enemies, America and Israel, want to create division among Iranians ... We will not succumb to pressure from America and Israel," Rohani said in a public speech in southern Iran, broadcast live on state TV.