IDF preparing for war amid rising US-Iran tensions, says Israel’s FM

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz also spoke about the growing acceptance of Israel among moderate Arab states.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

At an international conference Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel is building up its military in preparation for a possible war in the region due to the rising tension between the United States and Iran.

“It should be taken into account that mistaken calculations by the [Iranian] regime … are liable to bring about a shift from the ‘gray zone’ to the ‘red zone’ – that is, a military conflagration,” he said at the IDC Herzliya Conference.

“We must be prepared for this, and thus the State of Israel continues to devote itself to building up its military might for the event that it will have to respond to escalation scenarios,” he added.

Katz also emphasized the importance of confronting Iran in the ‘gray zone,’ which, he explained, is what “lies between the sanctions and war.” This, he said, consists of the threat Iran presents in its attempt to entrench itself the region through its presence in Syria and its terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza.”

“Iran must be presented with a simple dilemma: What is more important to them, Iran itself or exporting the [Islamic] Revolution,” Katz said.

The foreign minister expressed adamant support for the Trump administration’s policy on Iran. “Only clear support for the American policy [of heavy economic sanctions] could lead to a turnaround” and prevent war, he said.

Iran’s recent announcement that its enriched uranium stockpile has passed the 300-kilogram limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal should be a “wake-up call” for Europe to embrace U.S. policy, he affirmed.

Katz spoke enthusiastically about the growing ties Israel is forging with moderate Arab states, which, he said, are not solely due to fears concerning Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East.

He described his meeting with a senior Emirati official in Abu Dhabi this week on the sidelines of a United Nations Climate Change conference as “a step up in the relations between our countries.” The discussion included suggestions on “ways of blocking Iran on the nuclear issue, missiles, the support for regional terrorism” through support for U.S. policy.

But Israel is becoming more respected for other reasons as well, he said, as they value Israeli technology and what the Jewish state could contribute to the region.

“No less important,” he added, “is a normalization on the psychological level, an internalization that Israel is not an enemy, but a partner in promoting mutual interests.”