PM Netanyahu: "We have a longstanding policy to prevent the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory. This policy has not changed. We back it up as necessary with action."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Tuesday, 9 January 2017), in Jerusalem, attended a lunch with NATO member state ambassadors to Israel, chaired by Greek Ambassador to Israel Bikas Konstantinos and said, "We have a longstanding policy to prevent the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory. This policy has not changed. We back it up as necessary with action."
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"Ambassador, you outlined the great cooperation between NATO and Israel. It's a natural one. NATO was created one year after Israel, it's a unique alliance of democracies that share common values, committed to the preservation of freedom, the protection and advancement of peace. Israel is such a democracy as well. It's the only such democracy in this region and therefore our cooperation is natural. It was somewhat overdue and it received significant acceleration and flourishing following the opening of our office in NATO headquarters in December of 2016. Beyond the many important areas that you outlined, there are two issues that I think I want to spell out for you which I think are important areas where Israel contributes to the security of every single NATO country. And they both have to do with radical Islam.
The world right now is threatened by radical Sunnis, led initially by al-Qaeda, now by Daesh, by ISIS, and radical Shiites led by Iran. When we talk about ISIS it's important to understand that Israel helps Europe in two fundamental ways. The first is that we have, through our intelligence services, have provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries. Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind that you have experienced on the soil of Europe and even worse, because they involve civil aviation. Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives.
The second assistance that Israel has given to Europe and NATO has been the prevention of the establishment of what I call ISIS West in the Sinai. There is, as ISIS is contracting and is being destroyed in Iraq and Syria, it is trying to establish an alternative territorial base in the Sinai. Israel is contributing to preventing that in myriad ways, and in general I would say that Israel is the most powerful indigenous force in the Middle East that fights radical Islam.
Now to the second stream of radical Islam. That's Iran. Why is Iran so dangerous? Because it is, as Kissinger said, a cause, not a country. And the cause is worldwide domination under their brand of Islamic militancy. We are the small Satan, you're – no offence – the middle sized Satan, America is the great Satan, but they have designs on all of us. Iran is dangerous because this radical ideology seeks to acquire nuclear weapons. The first task is to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The second reason they are so dangerous is because they're trying to establish an empire, a territorial empire from Tehran to Tartus in the Mediterranean, enveloping the Middle East also from the south through Yemen, eventually conquering the Middle East. This is what Iran is about.
We are absolutely committed to preventing Iran from forming such a base, a military base in Syria, and we back our words with action. And this is dangerous for you too because the conquest of the Middle East by Iran would eventually effect all of your interests. Here's the third and specific interest that you should be concerned with. As part of Iran's plans of conquest and colonization of Syria, they want to bring in as many as 100,000 Shiites, Shiite fighters, imported into Iran - Non-Iranians under Iranian command.
If you think you had a reactio n to ISIS, that is, to radical Islam, radical Sunni Islam, and this is what really is happening in Syria, this is correct. So half a million were butchered, millions were uprooted from their homes and millions went to Europe. They didn't go anywhere else, they just went to Europe. And that maybe about to end, one hopes, this tragedy I hope ends.
But if Iran realizes its goal of bringing in 100,000 Shiite fighters into Iran, this will reignite the same conflict and you'll have the son of ISIS and the grandson of al-Qaeda that will be fighting this new Shiite force. Where will the spillover happen? In Europe. Where will the human flow go? To Europe. Who's preventing that right now? Israel. Right now Israel alone. But I maintain that this is a common interest that we have with NATO. So my message to you today is, radical Islam, either Shiite or Sunni, threatens all of us. Israel is fighting both. Israel seeks your cooperation. You have a statement and a sl ogan in NATO which I think is particularly apt: "An attack on one is an attack on all". An attack by radical Islam from whichever direction on any of our democracies is an attack on all our democracies. This is not merely a statement of abstract principle, this is simple truth. So I submit to you that what we should do is increase our cooperation for our common interests, our common security and for the quest for peace."
PM Netanyahu with the NATO member state ambassadors to Israel. Photo: GPO/Haim Zach.