Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets United Nations Secretary-General in Munich, February 16, 2018.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
Israel will continue to act against Iran in Syria if Tehran persists in developing its military presence there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday.
“Iran should not build its military bases there — we’ll act against it,” Netanyahu said when he spoke with Guterres on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
With regard to the Golan Heights, Netanyahu said that the strategic hilltop area Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War “will remain in the hands of Israel forever.”
Netanyahu is set to address the conference on Sunday before returning to Israel and is expected to focus on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria during that talk.
Netanyahu has issued such warnings since the Fall, but the urgency of the issue has increased since Saturday’s military action
against Syrian and Iranian targets, which resulted in the downing of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, following the incursion of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory.
During his visit to the region earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also called on Iran to withdraw from Syria.
Guterres addressed the conference and highlighted a number of global dangers including cyber security, nuclear war as the result of the North Korean situation and the Gordian knot of interdependent conflicts in the Middle East that seem to be spinning out of control.
These include the Syrian Civil War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he said had hit a “dead end.”
Some of the key actors in the Syria war are expected to attend the summit, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, as well as their Russian and Turkish counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Mevlüt Cavusoglu.
The US will be represented by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.
Other foreign leaders attending the conference include the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.Herb Keinon contributed to this story.