Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said Israel will not accept any limitation on its activities in Syria and will continue to defend its citizens, ahead of a visit to the Munich Security Conference, which he called “the most important security convention in the world.”
“I will again emphasize our determination to defend ourselves, of our own power, with no restriction,” he said at Ben Gurion Airport before boarding his plane, in an apparent reference to concerns that Russia may curb Israel’s freedom of operation in Syria.
The prime minister said he will present proof of Iran’s involvement in last weekend’s clashes, during which Israel downed a drone said to be sent by Tehran, and struck multiple Iranian targets in Syria. An Israeli F-16 was downed by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in the course of the Israeli retaliatory strikes, and crashed in Israel. The two pilots ejected.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres and with the chairman of the board of management of BMW, during the two-day conference.
His office said he will likely also meet with other ministers and senior figures on the sidelines of the conference, set to take place from February 16-18.
The prime minister is due to speak on Sunday morning.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are also set to attend this weekend’s conference.
In his remarks, Netanyahu also discussed the recent shooting in a Florida high school, in which 17 students and teachers were killed, several of them Jewish, saying he sent “deep condolences” on behalf of the people of Israel.
“I wish to send our deepest condolences to the families of the slain schoolchildren and teachers in the horrible massacre in Florida. I speak for the entire people of Israel when I say to the families and to the American people: our hearts are with you,” he said.
Speaking about the police recommendations to indict him on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two corruption cases, Netanyahu said he and his wife Sara have received immense support form Israelis and that he will “continue to lead the country,” echoing his previous comments on the matter.
“Me and my wife are thrilled to see the support, the sympathy, and the warmth so many citizens have been showing us. I will continue to serve them [and] our country responsibly, determinedly, and confidently, because I’m sure the truth will prevail in the end,” he said.