Iran is interested in sending substantial military forces to Syria and to establish an air force and navy bases there, senior official says
Barak Ravid (Paris) Jul 16, 2017
PARIS – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday that Israel opposes the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria that the United States and Russia reached because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country.
The prime minister noted that in his meeting with Macron, he made it clear to the French president that Israel was totally opposed to the cease-fire plan.
Statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu and French President Macron on July 16, 2017.
A senior Israeli official who asked not to be named due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the matter said Israel is aware of Iranian intensions to substantially expand its presence in Syria. Iran is not only interested in sending advisers to Syria, the official said, but also in dispatching extensive military forces including the establishment of an airbase for Iranian aircraft and a naval base for Iran’s navy.
“This already changes the picture in the region from what it has been up to now,” the senior official said.
‘France ready to address Hezbollah threat to Israel’
Earlier on Sunday, Macron said after his meeting with Netanyahu that France is ready to lead a diplomatic move to address the threat posed by Hezbollah’s weapons in south Lebanon.
Netanyahu and Macron met at the Élysée Palace for an hour and a half, when part of the meeting took place in private. The two leaders reached the Élysée Palace straight from a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews of Paris. During the ceremony, Macron said that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism, and must be fought.
One of the issues discussed by Netanyahu and Macron was Hezbollah’s activity in southern Lebanon, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. France is one of the main countries that make up the United Nations Interim Force in southern Lebanon and has played a central role in formulating Resolution 1701 in August 2006.
“I share Israel’s concerns about Hezbollah’s activity in south Lebanon and about the arms the group has,” Macron said during joint statements with Netanyahu following their meeting. “I want to try and promote a diplomatic move to reduce the severity of this threat,” he added.
Macron noted that he and Netanyahu also discussed the situation in Syria, the joint struggle against terror and the nuclear agreement with Iran. The French president stressed that France will remain vigilant in monitoring the full implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal, adding that Israel and France will hold talks to discuss policy coordination on the day after the nuclear agreement.
Macron condemned the attack on the Temple Mount and called for the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in order to reach a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines and Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
Netanyahu responded by saying that Israel and France share a desire to promote stability and peace in the Middle East, adding that he made it clear the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, on any border. Netanyahu also said that he discussed with Macron the regional opportunity created by the partnership of interests and warming of relations between Israel and the Arab countries.