EU diplomatic chief slams Iran threat to Israel

AFP , Thursday 21 May 2020

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell holds a virtual news conference at the end of a videoconference of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, April 22, 2020 REUTERS

The European Union's foreign policy chief on Thursday condemned a threat against Israel from Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a threat to world peace.

Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, took to Twitter after Khamenei's comments sparked an angry response from Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the call by the Iranian Supreme Leader @khamenei_ir to fight Israel," Borrell wrote, using the Iranian leader's Twitter handle.

"This is a threat to international peace and security. The security of Israel is of paramount importance and the EU will stand at its side," he declared.

Borrell was responding to comments posted on Twitter by Khamenei on Wednesday in Farsi, English and Arabic.

"Eliminating the Zionist regime doesn't mean eliminating Jews. We aren't against Jews," Khamenei wrote, explaining that what he meant was to "expel thugs like Netanyahu".

"This is 'eliminating Israel'," he said.

Shortly afterwards he added: "We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this."

The comment was also condemned by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and drew a counterthreat from Israel's Netanyahu.

"He should know that any regime that threatens Israel with extermination will find itself in similar danger," Netanyahu wrote on his official Twitter feed in Hebrew.

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