Netanyahu to Putin: Israel Will Stop Iranian Entrenchment in Syria, Lebanon

middle east
AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – If Iran continues to entrench itself in Syria and turns Lebanon into a “missile factory” Israel will “stop it,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

“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 Monday on a conference call following his meeting with the Russian president.

“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 cannot accept this threat,” he added.

“If we have to act, we will act,” he said.

“I explained our policy. These are not idle words,” he stated. “The Russians understand our position, they understand well the significance that we give to these threats.”

He added, however, that he could not confirm Moscow fully “accepted” Jerusalem’s position.

The Iran deal was also discussed during his meetings with Putin, Netanyahu said. “I raised our objections and also those I heard from 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 U.S. would make good on its threat” to back away from the deal.

Netanyahu said the discussions during his three meetings with the Russian leader were “frank, very straightforward, in the positive sense of the word.” He added that another of the meetings’ goals was to “ensure the military coordination between the IDF and the Russian forces in Syria.”

Netanyahu’s remarks on Lebanon come as the Defense Ministry bolsters its campaign to prevent the production of missile factories in that country.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday said Israel was using “all its options,” including “political leverage” to stop the production of Iranian precision missiles.

The Russian president also accompanied Netanyahu to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, where the opening of an exhibit dedicated to the 1943 uprising in the Nazi extermination camp Sobibor in occupied Poland, that was led by the Jewish Red Army officer Alexandr Pechersky, took place.

Putin gave Netanyahu a letter sent from Oskar Schindler, who saved more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, to his wife. Netanyahu said he would pass the gift on to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

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