Iran controls Lebanon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, two days after Lebanon formed a new national unity government with Hezbollah getting the influential health ministry.
“There is a great change taking place in the Middle East, and this is the rise of the aggressive theocracy in Iran that wants to conquer the Middle East, destroy Israel, and rule many other parts of the world,” Netanyahu told a delegation of visiting ambassadors to the UN as they left Jerusalem via helicopter for a tour of the Golan Heights and the northern border, where they will be briefed on the Hezbollah attack tunnels from Lebanon the IDF recently uncovered.
“Iran has many branches,” Netanyahu said. “One of them is Hezbollah that has now joined Lebanon’s government. This is actually misleading; Hezbollah essentially controls the government of Lebanon, which means that Iran controls the Lebanese government.”
Lebanon’s health ministry controls the fourth largest budget in the state, and gives the organization a great deal of power and influence over state institutions. The formation of the government under Prime Minister Saad Hariri comes nine months after elections in which Hezbollah and its allies gained ground.
Israel has sent messages to the Lebanese government that if Hezbollah strikes Israel, Israel will hold the Lebanese government – and act accordingly against Lebanese infrastructure – since Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government.
U.M. Diplomats in Israel
“It is important to convey this powerful message,” Netanyahu said. “Just as we have prevented the terror tunnels that reached Israel, we will prevent any aggression from Lebanon, Syria or Iran itself. We are committed to preventing this aggression, and thereby are defending not only Israel, but also all our neighbors and the entire world.”
The delegation of ambassadors, led by Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, arrived Thursday for a five-day visit. Before coming here, the group of some 40 ambassadors, who are sponsored by the March of the Living and the American Zionist Movement, spent two days in Poland
where they visited the Majdanek death camp.
Danon said that he often speaks out about the threat of Iran
at the Security Council, and that the visit to Poland was important for the ambassadors to understand the modern history of the Jewish people and its “sensitivity” to those – like Iran – who openly state their intention to destroy the Jewish state.
This is the third year in a row that Danon has brought a delegation of UN ambassadors to Israel.
“I have no doubt these trips help,” Danon said, noting that a record number of some 87 countries voted against Hamas during a UN General Assembly resolution in December.
He also said that these trips lead to the development of personal relationships that benefit Israel at the world body, since even envoys whose countries abstained or did not vote on the Hamas resolution shared information that they may not have done in the past had they not joined a trip, such as regarding who was for and against the resolution in their home offices.
In addition, Danon said, many of these ambassadors, after leaving the UN, go on to influential political or diplomatic positions in their home countries, where they are likely – as a result of these trips – to bring a better understanding of Israel with them.
Among the ambassadors on this delegation are the envoys from South Sudan, Gambia, Gabon, Hungary, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania, Slovenia, Paraguay, Panama and Honduras.
Danon said that some countries, as a policy, do not allow their ambassadors to join delegations traveling abroad. He said that while he does not know of any other country that organizes these kinds of trips, many countries – when they are running for temporary membership on the UN Security Council – will organize delegations to visit in order to boost their chances.
In addition to meeting Netanyahu, the ambassadors also met President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday. Since arriving, they have visited Yad Vashem, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the City of David, and met with US ambassador David Friedman.
On Monday and Tuesday, they will be in Tel Aviv focusing on high-tech and innovation issues.