Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday that if Iran continues to try and entrench itself in Syria, Israel will “stop it.”
“The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing, moments before taking off Russia en route to Tel Aviv.
“We also spoke about Lebanon, which is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will cannot accept this threat,” he added.
Netanyahu said that the weapons factories are currently “in the process of being built” by Iran.
“I explained our policy. These are not idle words,” he added. “The Russians understand our position, they understand well the significance that we give to these threats,” he said, acknowledging, however, that he could not say the Russians “accepted” the Israeli position.
Israel is determined to do whatever is necessary to prevent those two developments, Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said he and Putin also discussed the nuclear deal with Iran. “I raised our objections and also those I heard from US President [Donald] Trump. I can’t speak for the Russian position, but they understood that if certain changes weren’t made, it is very possible that the US would make good on its threat” to withdraw from the deal.
Netanyahu arrived in Moscow earlier Monday and had three separate meetings, spending several hours with the Russian president. He described the talks as “frank, very straightforward, in the positive sense of the word.”
Over the past year, Israel has warned repeatedly against Iranian efforts to set up weapons production facilities in Lebanon and establish a presence near the Israeli border with Syria.
The Hezbollah terror group, a major political force in Lebanon, is widely considered an Iranian proxy group. Its troops have fought alongside Iranian and Russian forces, helping Syrian President Bashar Assad during a seven-year civil war.
Israel has also warned against the establishment of Iranian missile factories in Syria, as well as the transfer of advanced weapons from that country to Hezbollah. Dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys bound for Lebanon have been attributed to Israel by foreign media reports.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that Israel will not tolerate Iran’s military buildup in Lebanon, or Iranian efforts to establish a foothold in Syria.
The meeting took place a day after a senior IDF spokesman said Lebanon was being turned into “one big missile factory” in service of the Tehran regime.
"It is no longer transfer of arms, money, or advice," said Brigadier General Ronen Manelis. "De facto, Iran has opened a new branch, 'Lebanon branch - Iran is here.' The IDF is prepared and ready for all scenarios, and plans to further improve its capabilities and readiness throughout the year. As we have proven in recent years, and those who need to know about it know, our security red lines are clear, and we prove this every week. The choice is yours, the citizens of Lebanon."
Netanyahu echoed Manelis’ accusation Monday morning before he flew to Moscow, vowing to discuss with Putin “Iran’s effort to turn Lebanon into one giant missile site” for attacks on Israel.
In Moscow, Netanyahu said that Israel is "still ready to prevent any attempts of this type of ideology, in the first place Iran, which speaks of the intention to destroy us".
"We will stand before them [Iran] with all our might," Netanyahu said. "There will not be another Holocaust."
After the meeting, Netanyahu spoke with journalists, calling the meeting with the Russian leader ‘constructive’.
“This meeting took place in the midst of a larger period of change,” continued the Prime Minister. “This is a watershed moment in Syria. Will Iran establish a foothold in Syria, or will the process be halted. I made it clear to Putin that we will stop [that process]. If it won’t be halted on its own, we will take action – and in reality we are already working to stop this threat.”
“We also discussed Lebanon,” said Netanyahu, “and I told him that the threat of weapons emanating from Lebanon is a threat the State of Israel will not tolerate, and if we need to act – we’ll take action.”
Netanyahu pointed out that the missile factories in Lebanon were still in the early stages of construction, but emphasized that Iranian forces operating in the area must understand that not only Israel but also the US would not tolerate the manufacture of such weapons on Israel’s northern border.
“These factories are still in the process of being established. It is important for our enemies to understand that not only will Israel not accept the existence of these factories, but also the world powers will not accept them.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, telling him that the lesson of the Nazis was that murderous ideologies must be stopped before they can flourish — an apparent reference to the current situation with Iran.
Ahead of their meeting, which was expected to focus on Israel’s concerns over the Iranian nuclear deal and attempts by Tehran to set up a military presence in Syria, the two leaders visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, where they viewed an exhibit dedicated to the 1943 uprising at the Nazi death camp Sobibor, in occupied Poland, that was led by Jewish inmate and Red Army officer, Alexandr Pechersky.
“We see here a very moving exhibition of documents from the Sobibor revolt, in which a Jewish officer from the Red Army, against all odds, led the successful breakout, the breakout to freedom.”
“I think that main lesson learned from the rise of the Nazis and afterwards the defeat of the Nazis, is the need to powerfully stand up to murderous ideology in time,” Netanyahu said at the museum. “That is our mission also today, that is what I want to talk to you about: our joint efforts to advance security and stability in our regions, and of course on the mutual cooperation between us, between Russia and Israel.”
Putin responded by noting the historical tie that the Russian and Jewish people have over their suffering in World War II, during which six million Jews and some 20 million Russians were killed.
“As you know, in our country there were many victims, in nearly every family,” the Russian leader continued. “Among the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, there were many citizens of the Soviet Union. They are the ones who made a great contribution in the defeat of the Nazis. We will use this opportunity to talk about our bilateral relations and to discuss the situation in the region.”
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