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Munich: Ya'alon Sits in on Panel by Iranian Foreign Minister

Defense Minister attends discussion at Munich Security Conference panel headed by Iranian Foreign Minister, sparking surprise.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/3/2014, 8:14 PM

Ya'alon, left; Zarif, right
Ya'alon, left; Zarif, right
Flash90/A7 annotation

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was present during a Munich Security Conference panel Sunday where Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke about the Middle East, Maariv noted Monday. 

The cause: to improve Israel's image as a supporter of Middle East peace - and to prove Iran's hypocrisy - to the world, according to senior defense officials.

"We are sending a clear message to the world here," one official told the Israeli daily on condition of anonymity. "Israel will not boycott Iran - unlike Iran, which chooses to boycott Israel." 

The sources explained that Ya'alon arrived early for his speech on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and decided to sit in on the conference. "The Minister wanted to hear things firsthand, and didn't leave the room," an official stated. "He just wanted to hear the Iranian position." 

Yukio Amano, the director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), along with a US official, were also on stage at the time. The discussion revolved around Iran's nuclear program. 

The sources said that Ya'alon's decision to stay caused surprise, as he chose to attend when others walked out, according to Ma'ariv. Ya'alon himself stated after the conference that the session was something of a learning experience - and a tactical move.

"This is the Iranian regime, and we need to look carefully at how it manipulates [the West]," Ya'alon noted. "Iran came to the table because of economic pressure; one way or another, Iran's military nuclear program must be stopped."

Close-up of picture above: Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, at left; Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, on stage at right Flash90; annotation by A7 staff

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks at the Munich Security Conference Flash90