Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to do whatever it takes to protect Israelis in the unstable Middle East, following a meeting with the German foreign minister in Jerusalem on Friday.
Leaving the meeting with Guido Westerwelle, Netanyahu noted that “the Middle East is undergoing a period of instability, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades.”
“I will fly wherever needed, and I’ll meet with whomever needed, and I’m doing everything necessary to defend the security of the Israeli people and will continue doing so,” Netanyahu said, adding that he was constantly following the changing situation in the region.
The prime minister was speaking the day after Russia made clear it would continue to arm Syria’s President Bashar Assad, including with the sophisticated S-300 air-defense system, despite Israel’s pleas to cancel that deal.
Westerwelle said his country supports the latest US initiative to push for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
The visiting diplomat said Berlin stands alongside its Israeli partners, and added that the friendship between the two countries goes beyond a strategic partnership.
In a meeting with President Shimon Peres later Friday, Westerwelle stated that Germany would not accept nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran’s ayatollahs and joined Peres’s call to carry on imposing sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Emerging from a meeting with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in Tel Aviv earlier Friday, the German foreign minister urged Israelis and Palestinians to restart negotiations. He also said that Israel has a right to defend itself so far as Syria is concerned.
Westerwelle, standing alongside the Hatnua party chief, told reporters that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy between Israeli and Palestinian officials is creating “a window of opportunity,” and he urged both sides to seize the moment.
Livni told Germany’s top diplomat that a US bid to restart peace talks should be regarded “with enthusiasm” by all sides.
At a press conference ahead of the meeting, Westerwelle said that Israel has a right to defend itself vis-a-vis threats emanating from Syria.
Livni reiterated the foreign minister’s comments and added that Russia’s transfer of advanced weapons to Syria would not contribute to creating stability in the region.
On Thursday, Russia made clear that it would proceed with its planned delivery of a highly sophisticated air-defense system to Syria, despite an emergency meeting between Netanyahu and Putin earlier in the week, in which Netanyahu warned that Moscow’s sale of the S-300 missile defense system to Assad could push the Middle East into war.
According to a report published in The New York Times Thursday, Russia has also sent advanced antiship cruise missiles to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.