During a visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the country’s president to pass a stern message to Iran: If the Islamic republic chooses to threaten Israel, it will pay.
“Don’t threaten us. We are not a rabbit, we are a tiger,” he said. “If you threaten us, you endanger yourself.”
The warning was given after President Nursultan Nazarbayev asked Netanyahu if he had any particular words for the Iranians, offering himself as a conduit, as Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is slated to visit Kazakhstan next week.
“Ask him why Iran continues to threaten us with annihilation,” Netanyahu responded.
He told Nazarbayev that he takes the words of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, whose constant vitriol against the Jewish State includes military threats against its existence, very seriously.
The Israeli premiere did not back down from his strong message, repeating it to Khazak Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev when they met later in the day. “I intend to repeat this message many times,” he said.
His visit to Kazakhstan and neighboring Azerbaijan, both majority Muslim countries, was intended to strengthen ties between Israel and the few Muslim states which consider it an ally. Netanyahu praised Kazakhstan’s “attitude of tolerance towards Jews” and noted that Kazakh Jews “speak very warmly of Kazakhstan and of the attitude towards all religions here.”
In Azerbaijan, the prime minister commended President Ilham Aliyev for being part of the effort to work against the attitude of “intolerance and lack of acceptance and mutual respect” found towards Israel in most Muslim countries.
“Here you have an example of Muslims and Jews working together to secure a better future for both of us,” he said warmly.