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Netanyahu Says 'Israel Won't Tolerate Iranian Bases In Syria And Lebanon'


French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give a joint press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 16, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his strong opposition to the terms of a ceasefire deal reached between the United States and Russia earlier this month because “it perpetuates Iran’s military presence” in that country.

Netanyahu who was in Paris on Sunday to commemorate the roundup and deportation of more than 13,000 French Jews during the Holocaust, met with President Emmanuel Macron for two hours. He spoke to journalists after the meeting and Israeli media covered his remarks on Syria and Lebanon.

In their meeting Netanyahu also told the newly elected French president that Iran wants to establish land, air and sea bases in Lebanon, something Israel cannot tolerate. He asked Macron to use France’s influence in Lebanon to prevent the small, multi-communal country to turn into a base for more “terrorist organizations”, Jerusalem Post reported.

Haartez quoted an unnamed “senior Israeli official” that Iran is also trying to set up an extensive military presence in Syria, including an airbase for Iranian aircraft and a naval base.

"This already changes the picture in the region from what it has been up to now," the senior official told Haaretz.

The Trump administration takes credit for the ceasefire in southern Syria, as an example of American-Russian cooperation. The ceasefire is said to be holding since July 9.

The terms of the agreement stipulate that Iranian commanded forces should stay 20 kilometers away from Israel’s borders, but Netanyahu said he is more concerned about Iran’s long-term presence in Syria.

The U.S. and Israel had extensive talks prior to the ceasefire agreement and Israeli demands made it clear that any deal should prevent Iran from establishing a permanent presence in Syria.

But Haaretz says that once the text of the agreement was made available, Israel realized its demands were not taken into account by the U.S. and Russia.

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