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Education Minister Bennett interviewed in the Ynet studios
Lieberman and Bennett: Israel must safeguard own security against Iranian presence in Syria
Def. Min. Lieberman and Edu. Min. Bennett say Israel has only itself to rely on regarding Iran's growing power in Syria; former national security advisor Amidror responds to Iran's suspected attempt to create 'a corridor' from Tehran to Mediterranean by saying, 'Israel can do nothing to stop it, but it can draw red lines in Syria and say that if they're crossed, it will retaliate.'
Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman spoke Thursday morning at a conference organized by the Israel Institute of Energy and Environment, assuring Israel will not stand idly by as Iran entrenches its position in Syria.

 

 

"Iran, via its Revolutionary Guard, is trying to create a new reality in the region with Iranian airforce and naval bases in Syria, with Shiite militias numbering thousands of mercenaries and by manufacturing precise weaponry in Lebanon," he said. "Israel does not intend to resign itself to these attempts and will not act as onlooker from the sidelines."

 

Ministers Bennett and Lieberman take strong position on growing Iranian foothold in Syria (Photo: GPO, Yair Sagi) (Photo: GPO, Yair Sagi)
Ministers Bennett and Lieberman take strong position on growing Iranian foothold in Syria (Photo: GPO, Yair Sagi)

 

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett also spoke on the matter, saying that "we'll do everything in our power to ensure no Iranians will stand at our borders," he asserted.

 

Bennett also commented on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "At the end of the day, whether we're turning to the US or to Russia, we'll try to harness them but won't rely solely on them," he stated. "Israel reserves the right to defend itself by itself, including against the Iranians near our borders. We're always keeping up-to-date on the processes in play here, it's one of the more vital and sensitive issues on our plate. At the moment, as we speak, Iran is funneling Shiite and Iranian militias into Syria."

 

Bennett wished to send a message to Israeli citizens. "We'll look after ourselves," he promised. "Menachem Begin didn't allow the threat then posed by the reactor in Iraq to build and grow, but acted to nip it in the bud."

 

"We're always together and always alone. That is, we always have partners and allies, we have a political plan of action, but we've never and will never outsource Israeli national security. All options are absolutely on the table."

 

Bennett went on to speak about ISIS, calling it a "tactical problem."

 

"It's a meaningful one, but tactical nonetheless," he said, "and you don't sacrifice a strategic interest of preventing the creation of a Persian empire from Tehran to the Mediterranean to solve a tactical problem."

 

Former Major General Yaakov Amidror, who served as the national security advisor, also spoke about Netanyahu's meeting with Putin and the growing Iranian threat. "Russia is one of the more important forces in determining Syria's fate, making their meeting crucial," he said.

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Putin discussed Iran, Syria (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Putin discussed Iran, Syria (Photo: AFP)

 

Amidror further commented on the Netanyahu-Putin meeting, saying, "Israel has a lot of strength and it needs to decide whether to put it to use. If it does, it should consider the reaction. The talk with Putin is important in order to make the Russians understand exactly what the Israeli interest is and what we plan to do, so they're not caught off-guard."

 

Amidror also weighed in on the land corridor to the Mediterranean Iran is trying to construct by taking over Syria. "That's without a doubt a seismic shift in the Middle East. It may actually be too big for Israel's britches. Israel can do nothing to stop a corridor starting in Tehran, passing through Baghdad and terminating in Damascus, but it can draw red lines in Syria and say that if they're crossed, it will retaliate."

 

Amidror then added Israel should set the aforementioned red line when it comes to Iranian presence in Syria. "We're not asking the Russians for permission," he said, "but we have to make it clear to them where that line passes and should decide whether we act once it's crossed—that is, the point beyond which Israel will forcefully respond to Iranian provocations."

 

"In any event, it's best to keep the Russians in the picture," Amidror continued. "It's been working rather well up until now, at least. According to foreign publications, we've been quite active in Syria with the Russians already present there. It should be very careful and precise, but it needs to be done."

 

Syrian rebels holding the ISIS flag (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Syrian rebels holding the ISIS flag (Photo: AFP)

 

"World media has taken Iran's words out of context"

In the past few days, Iran has threatened that in a matter of days, it will be capable of producing enriched uranium at a level sufficient for the production of nuclear weapons. According to Dr. Tamar Eilam Gindin , a specialist on Iran from the Shalem Academic College and the Azari Center, the western media distorted the Iranians' true intentions in this case.

 

"The media took what they said out of context," she said. "What they meant was they're loyal to the agreement and have no intention of breaking it, but should the US place the sanctions back on them, within five days they can have the Fordo reactor up and running and reach twenty percent enrichment."

 

"And even that is a long ways off from an actual bomb," he explains, "it's simply their previous pre-agreement ability."

 

"The Iranians want the nuclear agreement maintained," she assures. "The head of the Iranian atomic agency said, 'We were able to reach this agreement with so much effort and won't give it up so easily. But Trump is threatening to place the sanctions back on us. You can't expect that if you threaten us with sanctions we'll stick to our side of the agreement.'"

 

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