Netanyahu Warns EU about Iran, Says ‘We Defend Europe’

PM Netanyahu and Croatian Pres. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach (Israeli GPO)

The threat of Iran’s missile program extends past the Middle East and into Europe, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was clear about the range of Iran’s malevolence in comments with the visiting leader of next European Union Presidency on Monday. “Israel is in the forefront of the battle against radical Islam. If Israel wasn’t here in the Middle East, then I think the Middle East would fall to radical Islam,” said Netanyahu to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in comments published by Israel.

“The fact that we are here, the fact that we protect ourselves, is obviously very important for us, but in defending ourselves, we’re defending the entire Middle East. And by defending the Middle East, we defend Europe.”

Netanyahu expressed his condolences about a recent attack in Afghanistan in which a Croatian soldier was killed, but also noted that exemplified the “dark” forces of radical Islam, including Iran. The Israeli leader highlighted Croatia’s next role heading the EU as “an opportunity to send this message to all the nations of Europe,” namely that “the twin challenges that I think makes Israel particularly significant for Europe is one, to seize a bright future, to fashion a bright future; and second, to resist a dark past.”

Continued the Israeli leader, “What happened in Kabul and what we’re all facing, and you’re facing too, is the attempt by radical Islam to bring back humanity to a very dark period. Some of them would like to take us to the beginning of the Middle Ages, and this is exemplified obviously by Daesh [ISIS], but in my opinion also by, first and foremost by Iran. That is a much more powerful and malevolent force.”

In addition to Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also discussed Iran with President Grabar-Kitarović with Croatia’s accepting the EU presidency in the background.

“I urge the European Union to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons, and I urge the European Union does not transfer weapons and missiles to terror organizations and undermine regional stability,” said Rivlin in a separate Israeli press release. “Iran is a danger to the entire world, not just for Israel. We all face the same threats and must work together to confront them.”

For her part, President Grabar-Kitarović pledged to use the presidency of the EU to benefit Israel. “Next year, we will hold the EU Presidency for the first time and we will work to bring balance to relations with Israel and to allow Israel’s voice to be heard in its institutions,” said the Croatian leader.

Rivlin thanked Croatia for their support of Israel in the EU and beyond, and Iran isn’t the only issue on Israel’s collective mind. Rivlin also pointed to reform at the United Nations as another need. Said the Israeli President, “Croatia is a strong and supportive ally of Israel in the EU, the UN and in additional multilateral forums. The discrimination against Israel in the UN has been going on for decades, but we must never accept it as normal. This discrimination must end.”

Netanyahu, in his comments with the Croatian leader, also mentioned antisemitism as another common fight with the European nation. “When I talk about resisting a dark past, I’m talking also about, of course about the scourge of antisemitism that is raising its head. I know you have family history, your own family history in this regard, and I know that you will lead the effort, both in Croatia and in the EU, against the rebirth of antisemitism.

“I think the opportunities for enhancing the friendship between us and giving a better life for our peoples are real and I’m sure that we’ll make them closer and more real by this visit.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 29, 2019)

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