DAVOS, Switzerland — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with several heads of state on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, urging them to act to fix the Iran nuclear deal and vowing that Israel would not allow Iran to establish military bases in Syria.
Netanyahu held meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alain Berset and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.
All five meetings were behind closed doors.
Netanyahu said the meeting with Merkel was “important.”
“We spoke about the nuclear agreement with Iran. I said that in my opinion, the only option at the moment is to introduce real, rather than cosmetic, amendments that will prevent Iran from nuclearization, which is currently guaranteed under the agreement,” Netanyahu said, adding that “I expressed my appreciation for the real commitment of the chancellor to Israel’s security.”
Netanyahu said that Merkel “repeated her commitment and said that she understands our concerns about the nuclear agreement. She does not necessarily agree with the way we want to deal with it….but she understands that it has to do with our concern for something that threatens our very existence, which she is committed to [safeguarding].”
Netanyahu raised the Iran issue at his other meetings too.
At each of his meetings, Netanyahu called on the leaders to “take advantage of the opportunity created” by US President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this month that he would no longer sign a certification of Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, which waives sanctions on Iran, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“The prime minister said that he would not allow Iran to establish military bases in Syria and that Israel was working to prevent this,” the statement said.
During a brief photo op after his sit-down with Michel, Netanyahu apologized to the Belgian leader for not meeting with him when he was in Brussels last month.
No mention was made in the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office regarding a Channel 10 report that Belgium intends to recognize Palestine as an independent state.
According to the report, Belgium will be joined by Luxembourg, Ireland and Slovenia in making the move. The Slovenian foreign minister has already confirmed his country’s intention.
Regarding the Palestinian question, Netanyahu said that he “would not compromise on Israel’s security needs in any future agreement,” the statement added.
In Netanyahu’s meeting with Berset of Switzerland, the two leaders agreed “to create new paths for economic cooperation,” the statement said.
The prime minister discussed the issue of trade with Canada’s Trudeau, with the two leaders agreeing to expand contacts on the issue, the PMO said.
Netanyahu invited each of the leaders to visit Israel.
Laster Wednesday, the prime minister will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and French President Emmanuel Macron in addition to the CEO of the SAP German multinational software corporation, Bill McDermott.
On Thursday afternoon, Netanyahu is slated to sit down with US President Donald Trump.
In the meeting, Trump plans “to reiterate America’s strong commitment to Israel and efforts to reduce Iran’s influence and abilities, and ways to achieve lasting peace,” White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in a press briefing.
The last time the two met was in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. There, Trump told Netanyahu that Washington will walk away from the nuclear deal with Iran if it deems that the UN agency overseeing the agreement is not tough enough in monitoring it.