Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday warned that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation should be a “wake-up call” to the international community to the threat posed by Iran’s regional ambitions, which he said endanger not only Israel but the entire Middle East.
“The resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri and his remarks [on Iran] are a wake-up call to the international community to take action against the Iranian aggression, which is turning Syria into a second Lebanon,” tweeted Netanyahu from London.
“This aggression endangers not only Israel, but the entire Middle East. The international community needs to unite and stand against this aggression,” the prime minister added.
My remarks on the resignation of Lebanese PM Hariri pic.twitter.com/f0skX3dpE8
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) November 4, 2017
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Lebanon would become like Iran.
“Lebanon=Hezbollah. Hezbollah=Iran. Lebanon=Iran,” he tweeted. “Iran is a danger to the world. Saad Hariri proved this today. Period.”
Hariri announced his resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, citing threats on his life and Iran’s “grip” on Lebanon.
In a bitter tirade, Hariri accused Iran and Hezbollah of what he called their meddling in Arab affairs.
“The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it,” Hariri said, accusing Tehran of spreading chaos, strife and destruction throughout the region.
“Iran has a grip on the fate of the region’s countries… Hezbollah is Iran’s arm not just in Lebanon but in other Arab countries too,” he said. “In recent years, Hezbollah has used the power of its weapons to impose a fait accompli.”
Iran later claimed the US and Saudi Arabia orchestrated the resignation in order to sow regional chaos.
Netanyahu’s remarks on Hariri’s resignation came a day after he warned the threat posed by the Islamic Republic to its Middle Eastern neighbors was driving them into hitherto unthinkable alliances with the Jewish state.
“Iran is devouring one nation after the other,” Netanyahu said Friday at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs think-tank in London.
“It is doing so either by direct conquest or by using proxy. They took over Lebanon, Yemen… they try to do the same thing with Iraq, in Syria.
“The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before. It is something that I would have never expected in my lifetime,” Netanyahu said.
He said Israel was working “very hard” to establish an effective alliance with “the modern Sunni states” to condemn and counter Iranian aggression.
“I think that actually has a great promise of peace” for the region, he said.
Iran had come into the Syrian war “to Lebanon-ize Syria economically and militarily,” he said. But Israel, he vowed, would not let Iran come to dominate Syria.
“They want to leave their army, their airbases and fighter aircraft within seconds of Israel and we are not going to let that happen. We do not say that lightly. We mean what we say and we back it with action.”
Netanyahu said the Middle East was witnessing “the emergence of a battle between the Islamists and the modernists,” provoking a “new alliance between Israel and Islamic states.”
Israel has long viewed Iran as its number one enemy, while Sunni Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia are regional rivals of the Shiite country.
Since Israel was established in 1948, only two Arab states — Egypt and Jordan — have signed peace deals with the country and established full diplomatic relations.
The United States has sought to promote links between Israel and the Arab world, with President Donald Trump’s administration hoping to leverage regional interests to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said the 2015 Iran nuclear deal reached with the international community does not go far enough to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon.
The agreement “basically says within X years of time, not much — and times goes quickly — you will have unlimited capacity to enrich uranium,” he said.
The greatest danger is not that Tehran would violate the deal, “but that Iran would keep it.”
He demanded tough sanctions be put in place and inspections of Iranian military sites.
Turning to relations with Washington, he said ties were stronger since the election of Trump.
He said he had “very strong” disagreements with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, saying the former US president saw Iran as part of the solution to problems in the Middle East, while he saw it as the main problem.
Netanyahu said he thought Trump saw Iran as the problem.
“And that a strategical and important shift that we appreciate,” he said.
Netanyahu is in Britain for events marking the centenary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British statement which helped lead to the creation of the state of Israel.
On the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu indicated the Palestinians could not have full sovereignty in any future state: “It is time we reassess the model of sovereignty and whether that is applicable everywhere in the world,” he said.
Israel, he said, was ready to “trade land for peace, but not land for rockets.” The Palestinians could have the power to govern themselves, he summarized, but not threaten others.