Netanyahu to Iran: Don't threaten us; we’re not a rabbit, we’re a tiger
Prime Minister Netanyahu meets long-reigning Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev during his visit the country, speaking of establishing deeper ties between both countries and of the gradually growing warmth between Israel and Muslim and Arab countries, a change that is partially happening behind the scenes.
While on tour in Kazakhstan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Wednesday to Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who predicted that Israel would cease to exist within 25 years. "Don't threaten us, we are not a rabbit, we are a tiger," said Netanyahu while on a visit to Kazakhstan.
The comment was made during Netanyahu's meeting with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been the country's ruler for the past 26 years.
Nazarbayev told Netanyahu that Khamenei is due to visit Kazahstan, and asked whether he wished to deliver a message to him.
"Ask him why Iran continues to threaten us with annihilation," said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu added that those who threaten Israel put themselves in great danger, but that if Iran changes its policy with regard to Israel, Israel will do the same. He added, though, that he believes that Iranian leaders aim to make good on statements they make, in which they promise to annihilate Israel.
Netanyahu was received at the royal presidential palace by an honorary guard, while the Israeli national anthem played in the background. Together with President Nursultan, he signed a research and development agreement, a flight agreement, an agreement to build a joint agricultural center and several other forms signaling the two countries' cooperation. The two leaders also discussed setting up teams to develop hi-tech, technology and security endeavors.
Netanyahu stated that what is being seen today is the leaders or a Muslim and Jewish state shaking hands and cooperating to create a better future for the citizens of their countries. Their example, he said, radiates to the entire world, showing that Israel's relationship with its Muslim and Arab neighbors is dramatically changing.
He also stressed that while some of the interactions and progress made between Israel and other Middle East countries are under the radar, they are nevertheless changing in great ways. The world, said Netanyahu, is looking to the powers of progress, solidarity and friendship, and not intolerance, oppression and terrorism.
Netanyahu also praised Nursultan, specifically for his tolerance toward Jews. Calling Kazakhstani-born Israeli Jews "a human bridge" to Kazakhstan and its culture, he spoke of their reminiscing of the pluralism they had witnessed back in Kazakhstan toward all religions. He then asked Nursultan to support Israel in the UN Security Council, reminding him that Israel had supported Kazakhstan's successful bid the Security Council.
This is reportedly the first visit a sitting Israeli prime minister has made to Kazakhstan, and Netnayahu made sure to take in the country's historic sites. While visiting a synagogue in the country's capital of Astana with his wife Sara, he added that Israel retains its solid standing among the nations of the world not by lowering its head, but by standing tall. He highlighted the importance of him making such a statement in a Muslim country that respects coexistence and acts as a model of what can and should happen between Israel and its close neighbors.