Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(photo credit: GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for a one-day trip to Moscow Monday morning where he said he will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Iran's efforts to turn Lebanon into “one big missile site.”
Before boarding his plane, Netanyahu said that Israel is “not willing to tolerate” Lebanon being turned into a site for the manufacture of precision missiles to be used against it.
Netanyahu's comments came a day after IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis warned in a rare op-ed
on a Lebanese opposition website that a war with Israel could break out if Iran develops precision missiles in the country.
“Lebanon has become - both by its own actions and omissions and by a blind eye from many members of the international community - one large missile factory,” Manelis wrote on the Ahewar website.
"It's no longer a transfer of arms, funds or consultation. Iran has de-facto opened a new branch, the 'Lebanon branch.' Iran is here," he said.
Netanyahu said that he meets “from time to time” with Putin to ensure coordination between the IDF and the Russian forces in Syria. “This has succeeded until now, and it is important that it will continue to succeed," he said.
Netanyahu said that he will also speak with the Russian president about Iran's ”unending efforts to militarily entrench itself in Syria, something that we are adamantly opposed to and act against.”
Netanyahu said during his recent trip to India that Putin is – along with US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – one of the world leaders with whom he has a close relationship. He last met with the Russian leader in Sochi in August.
They speak frequently on the phone, with the discussions generally focused on the situation in Syria. Netanyahu has made clear to Putin that Israel will not tolerate the establishment of a permanent military base for Iran in Syria after the civil war, and will take action to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
In addition to the meeting, Putin and Netanyahu will go to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow for the opening of an exhibit called “Sobibor: Victorious over Death,” which is dedicated to the 1943 uprising in the Nazi extermination camp.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report