Netanyahu delivers warning to Lebanon in meeting with Pompeo

Netanyahu made a previously unannounced trip to Brussels as concern in Jerusalem mounts over precision missiles in Hezbollah’s hands.

December 3, 2018 16:00
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pomeo (R)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pomeo (R), and National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat (C) light Hanukkah candles during a meeting in Brussles, December 3, 2018. (photo credit: GPO)


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to have taken a warning to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday for him to deliver to Lebanon: Stop Hezbollah’s efforts to get precision guided missiles, or Israel will do so.

Before boarding his plane, Netanyahu characterized the meeting as “important,” and alluded to the situation in Lebanon.

“We are in continuous contact with our American friends,” Netanyahu said before taking off. “I will discuss with Mike Pompeo a list of developments in our region, and [actions] we are taking together to halt the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the North. We will of course also discuss other issues.”

Netanyahu was accompanied to the meeting by Mossad head Yossi Cohen; National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat; and his military secretary Avi Bluth.

Israel has for months been warning against Iran and Hezbollah converting some of the nearly 150,000 missiles believed to be stockpiled by the organization in Lebanon into precision guided missiles by refitting them with GPS systems. Jerusalem has made it clear that this is something it will not tolerate, since these missiles could accurately target Israel’s sensitive infrastructure and population centers.

Netanyahu made mention of this in September during his address to the UN Security Council. “Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles,” he said. “Missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of ten meters.”

Netanyahu, who held up photos during that speech of what he said were three of those sites near Beirut International Airport, said that he had a message for Hezbollah: “Israel also knows what you’re doing, Israel knows where you’re doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.”

Netanyahu’s trip to Brussels came some 24 hours after the police recommended an indictment against him on charges of bribery and fraud.

The Prime Minister’s Office stressed in announcing the rush trip to Brussels that the meeting was set up last week and originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was moved up because of the funeral for late US president George H.W. Bush, which is scheduled for that day.

Highlighting when the meeting was set up indicated that it was in no way connected to the police recommendations, and seemed an effort to nip in the bud any speculation that Netanyahu was interested in flying abroad on urgent state business to deflect attention from the police recommendations.

On Saturday, Pompeo issued a statement saying that Iran launched a medium-range ballistic missile “capable of carrying multiple warheads.”

“As we have been warning for some time, Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing. We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence,” Pompeo said. “We condemn these activities, and call upon Iran to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Pompeo said that the test violated a UN Security Council ban on Iranian ballistic missile activity designed to carry a nuclear payload.

Netanyahu, before their meeting, thanked Pompeo for his “firm statements” about Iran’s latest ballistic missile launch.

Pompeo is in Brussels to take part in the semi-annual meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

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