Netanyahu: Lebanese PM’s plea to halt Iran aggression must be wake up call

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran "endangers not only Israel, but the entire Middle East."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comments on the resignation of Said Hariri (REUTERS)
 The international community must heed outgoing Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri’s harsh words against Iranian regional aggression and act against Tehran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night.
This should be a “wake-up call to the international community to take action against the Iranian aggression" that aims that "to turn Syria into a second Lebanon,” Netanyahu said.
“This aggression endangers not only Israel but the entire Middle East. The international community needs to unite and confront this aggression,” he said.
He spoke just hours after Hariri’s announcement from Saudi Arabia that he was resigning, fearing his life was in danger.
But as part of his statement, Hariri also attacked Iran for its destabilizing actions both in his country and others in the region.
''I point very clearly to Iran which spreads destruction and strife wherever it is, and witness to that its interventions in the internal matters of the Arab countries, in Lebanon and Syria and Bahrain and Yemen,” Hariri said.
Iran, he added, is “driven by a deep hatred for the Arab nation and strong desire to destroy it and control it, and unfortunately it has found among our fellow countrymen those who put their hands in its hands.''
Hariri’s resignation comes as Netanyahu is in London, where he spoke with the British prime minister and foreign secretary about Iran.
During a public conversation at Chatham House on Friday Netanyahu warned that “Iran is devouring one nation after the other” either by direct conquest or by proxy.
Tehran is doing this in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and is now moving into Syria where it wants to send militias with thousands of Shiites, Netanyahu said.
It has targeted Syria as part of its drive to create a land bridge to the sea, he added.
“We will block them in Syria,” Netanyahu said.
Iran wanted to “colonize” Syria economically and militarily, and as part of that plan, it wants to place military bases in Syria close to Israel’s border, Netanyahu said.
To illustrate his point, he stood up and used the map on the wall behind him to show the areas where he said Iran plans to gain a military foothold.
“They want to move their air bases to have fighter air craft within seconds of Israel. They want to put Shiite divisions within spitting distance of Israel," Netanyahu said.
Until now Israel has not intervened in Syria, Netanyahu said, save for treating the wounded from that conflict. It has also acted to prevent Iran from moving advanced weapons through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“When Hezbollah approached our border, when they tried to extend the terror front they have in Lebanon to Syria, we acted to stop them,” Netanyahu said.
The fall of ISIS has increased the danger, said Netanyahu adding that as “as ISIS contracts, Iran moves in.”
Other Arab nations are also concerned about the Iranian threat, Netanyahu said.
“We are working very hard to establish an effective alliance between Israel and the moderate Sunni states to counter the aggression of Iran, to role it back as far as possible,” Netanyahu said.
He focused in particular on the threat that Iran could build not just one nuclear weapon, but one hundred.
“There is a great danger from rogue regimes having nuclear weapons but the greatest danger to the peace of the world is when a militant Islamic regime meets nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
“We will not let Iran acquire nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapon. We mean what we say and we back that up with action,” Netanyahu said.