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Netanyahu rejects ‘losing horse’ words by Khamenei, plows ahead with outreach

The prime minister declared that Iran would not succeed in stopping Israel "from further expanding the cycle of peace."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sept. 27, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sept. 27, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded sharply to an anti-Israel tweet by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday, saying, “While Khamenei’s terrorist regime exports ruin and destruction, Israel is advancing progress and peace.”

“Just as Iran did not prevent us from achieving the Abraham Accords, neither will it prevent us from further expanding the cycle of peace for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, the peoples of the region and all humanity,” he added.

Khamenei tweeted on Tuesday morning: “Governments that are gambling on normalizing relations with the Zionist regime will lose. As the Europeans say, ‘They are betting on a losing horse.’ This is the Islamic Republic’s definite position.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also responded to Khamenei’s tweet, saying that “the murderous terrorist regime has already managed to crush several countries that it has taken over.”

“Now he is trying to sabotage the peace efforts with idle threats. Iran will continue to work to spread terror and destruction; Israel, to achieve security for its citizens and peace in the Middle East,” Gallant added.

‘A crack in the wall’

Khamenei’s comments were widely regarded as directed towards Saudi Arabia, which considering a normalization deal with Israel.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Sept. 29, referring to a prospective agreement: “All sides have hammered out, I think, a basic framework.”

On Sept. 26, Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz became the first Israeli minister to receive an entry visa from the Saudi government, arriving in Riyadh to participate in a conference of the U.N. World Tourism Organization.

“We’re making the crack in the wall; after us people will blow up the wall. The process takes time,” Katz told JNS.

Less than two weeks ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said in an interview with Fox News that normalization with Israel was “getting closer every day,” and that the kingdom could join the Abraham Accords with White House support.

The crown prince’s interview aired the same day that U.S. President Joe Biden met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.

Netanyahu Biden UNGA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2023 in New York. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

“I think that under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” said Netanyahu.

“And I think such a peace would go a long way first to advance the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict, achieve reconciliation between the Islamic world and the Jewish state, and advance a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Saudi Arabia and Iran renewed ties in March, but the kingdom remains concerned about the Islamic Republic’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. “If they get one, we have to get one,” MBS said in his Fox interview.

In another sign that tensions remain, Saudi soccer team Al-Ittihad called off at the last minute an Asian Champions League match scheduled for Monday with Iran’s Sepahan Soccer Club after a bust of Qassem Soleimani—the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force assassinated by the United States in Baghdad in January 2020—was placed on the field. As a result, the Saudi team refused to leave the dressing room at the Naghsh-e Jahan Stadium.

Saudi Arabia’s objection to Soleimani’s statue was due to his role in supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, turning its border with Saudi Arabia into a frontline in its proxy war to destabilize the region. The Houthis targeted Saudi Arabia with dozens of missile and drone attacks.

Despite the Jewish state’s improved diplomatic position in the region since the signing of the 2020 Abraham Accords, and its strengthening ties with the signatories since then, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, Khamenei continued in a series of tweets to declare that Israel’s end was near.

“The Zionist regime is dying,” he tweeted.

Then, describing Israel, he said: “This cancer will definitely be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people.”

Khamenei also posted a video of himself, lecturing that “they [the Zionists] are filled with hatred. They are filled with anger. Well, the Koran says, ‘Say, die in your anger.’ That’s right. Be angry. Die in your rage. And this will happen. They are dying. With God’s help, this saying, ‘Die in your rage,’ is taking place with regard to the Zionist regime.”

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