Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel April 30, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Israel will not tolerate an Iranian nuclear program or its military presence anywhere in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, on the eve of a four-day trip to Europe to meet three key European leaders keen on saving the Iranian nuclear deal.
Netanyahu is headed on Monday to Berlin, Paris and London – capitals all strongly opposed to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal – for talks he told the weekly cabinet meeting will focus on Iran.
Netanyahu said he will discuss regional developments, with the primary emphasis on the containment of Iran’s nuclear program, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“I will stress the unchanging truth: Israel will not let Iran acquire nuclear weapons,” he said.
France, Germany and Britain – who were all involved in drawing up the 2015 agreement – are all at odds with the US and Israel over Trump’s move, arguing that walking away from the nuclear deal will strengthen the radicals inside Iran, compel the Iranians to resume uranium enrichment, and put Iran and the West on a military collision course.
These countries are also concerned that reimposed American sanctions on Iran will hurt their companies keen on doing business with the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu also said he will discuss Iran’s expansionist and aggressive goals in Syria and the Middle East, and stress Israel’s fundamental position that it will continue to maintain its freedom of action against an Iranian military buildup anywhere in Syria.
This comes within the context of persistent reports that understandings have been reached whereby Iranian and Shi’a forces will be removed from southern Syria. Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Iranian forces must leave all of Syria.
Netanyahu said he has spoken about these matters recently with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in talks the prime minister described as “very important for Israel’s security.”
Britain, France and Germany are also concerned about Iran’s aggression in the region, but want to keep that issue separate from the Iranian nuclear deal. Netanyahu is scheduled to leave Monday morning for Berlin for talks with Merkel. In the evening he will go to Paris, where he will meet Macron and take part in the launching of a series of Israeli-French cultural events to mark 70 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. On Wednesday he will fly to London and talks with May, before returning to Israel on Thursday.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>