‘Not a threat’: Israel summons Russian ambassador over Iran remarks in interview
In an interview with the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, Viktorov said that "Iran does not destabilise the Middle East but the Israel-Arab conflict does".
He added that Tehran is not the main force behind regional instability, rather "it's a lack of understanding between countries and noncompliance with UN resolutions in the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian conflict", likely referring to Israel.
He then went onto claim that Iran-backed Lebanese Islamist movement Hezbollah is not a threat to Israel.
"Israel is attacking Hezbollah, Hezbollah is not attacking Israel," Viktorov said.
He also argued that there was "no proof" Hezbollah created the tunnels Israel claims to have uncovered, along its northern border with Lebanon.
Israel Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke out against the remarks when asked about them in a press conference on Wednesday.
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"I think it was made clear beyond all doubt that Israel does not accept these statements, and thus I hope we will bring an end to such embarrassing and unacceptable statements between us and Russia, and in general," Ashkenazi said.
In response, Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement that Viktorov was summoned due to his remarks in Tuesday's interview.
The statement said that the remarks are "inconsistent with the reality in the Middle East."
The Russian ambassador said that some of his remarks were misquoted and he intends to issue a letter for clarification, the Israeli foreign ministry said.
The Jerusalem Post said it stands by its reporting.