Netanyahu said to urge UK’s May to back Iran protesters

TV report says PM told his British counterpart that Iranian support for Assad regime risks reigniting European refugee crisis

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) poses with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside 10 Downing Street in London on November 2, 2017.(AFP Photo/Tolga Akmen)
British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) poses with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside 10 Downing Street in London on November 2, 2017.(AFP Photo/Tolga Akmen)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly urged his British counterpart Theresa May to publicly back the anti-regime protests in Iran during a phone call between the two leaders Friday.

According to a Channel 10 report Saturday, Netanyahu implored May “to express solidarity with the protesters.”

While Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump have thrown their support behind the demonstrations, European leaders have stuck to more general statements calling on Iran to respect the right to protest.

A spokesman for May called Tuesday for a “meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that the protesters are raising,” according to Reuters, but stopped short of condemning reports of violent attempts by the Iranian government to quell the demonstrations.

Over 20 people are reported to have been killed in the protests, which began over a week ago over economic conditions in Iran.

In this Dec. 30, 2017 file photo, taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, university students attend an anti-government protest inside Tehran University, in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

Channel 10 said Netanyahu also warned May that Shiite Iran’s military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad risks further fueling sectarian tensions in the region and reigniting the European refugee crisis.

“The presence of Shiite militias in Syria will intensify the Shiite-Sunni struggle and strengthen terror groups like [Islamic State] and al-Qaeda, which will bring a renewal of the refugee problem in Europe,” the report quoted Netanyahu as telling May, citing a senior diplomatic source.

In light of this, Netanyahu said it was in Europe’s interest for Israel to prevent an Iran from establishing a military foothold in Syria, according to Channel 10.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have repeatedly said Israel won’t tolerate an Iranian presence in the Golan Heights and have warned the Jewish state is prepared to take military action if necessary.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu also spoke Friday with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragne regarding “the regional situation and developments in Iran.”

It said the premier thanked the Polish and Romanian leaders for abstaining on a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution last month rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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