JERUSALEM, Israel – In the latest confrontation between Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif faced off at a global security summit in Munich, Germany.
During his remarks, Netanyahu held up a piece of an Iranian drone shot down over Israel just last week.
"Iran also denies that it committed an act of aggression against Israel last week, that it sent a drone into our airspace to threaten our people. Well, here is a piece of that Iranian drone or what's left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself," he said. "Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should, it's yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran – do not test Israel's resolve."
Zarif brushed off Netanyahu's claim.
"You were the audience for a cartoonish circus just this morning, which does not even deserve the dignity of a response," said Zarif, who represented Iran during negotiations over the Iranian nuclear deal, signed in July 2015.
He also denied that Iran wants to dominate the Middle East.
"Iran believes that our security in the Persian Gulf requires a fresh regional security architecture. We believe in, and have proposed, creating what we call a strong region rather than a strong man in the region," Zarif said. "And you've got to notice the difference. We want a strong region; we do not want to be the hegemon in the region as we believe the era of hegemony is long passed."
But Netanyahu reiterated what he and others believe is Iran's goal to dominate the region.
"And nowhere are Iran's belligerent ambitions clearer than in Syria. There Iran hopes to complete a contiguous empire linking Tehran to Tartous, the Caspian to the Mediterranean," Netanyahu explained. "For some time I've been warning about this development. I've made clear in word and deed that Israel has red lines it will enforce. Israel will continue to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria. Israel will continue to act to prevent Iran from establishing another terror base from which to threaten Israel."
Netanyahu reminded ministers from around the world of history's lesson when Britain's Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement appeasing Adolph Hitler, which led to World War II.
"And 80 years ago another event took place here with far-ranging consequences. A disastrous agreement was signed here that set the world on a course toward history's most horrific war. Two decades after World War 1, two decades after a war that claimed 16 million lives, the leaders who met in Munich chose to appease Hitler's regime rather than confront it."
The US-led Iranian nuclear deal, signed in July 2015 by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, Russia, France, China) plus Germany, lifted economic sanctions in exchange for Iran imposing limitations to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.