At a press conference following a 90-minute meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany “will exert our influence in such a way that Iran is pushed out of this region,” The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.
Though the two leaders still differ on the merits of the nuclear deal with Iran, Merkel backed up Israel’s insistence that Iran be denied a foothold in Syria. She added that Germany would not only scrutinize Iran’s role in Syria, but will take a “very close look at Iran’s activities in the region and seek to contain it.”
Netanyahu warned that if Iran remained in Syria, it would not only have serious repercussions for Israel, but for Europe too. The Israeli leader noted that Syria is 96% Sunni and that Iran has an estimated 18,000 Shiite militiamen under its command there and looking to expand that total to 80,000 by trying to “convert the Sunni.” Netanyahu added, “This will inflame another religious war, this time a religious war inside Syria, and the consequences would be many, many more refugees, and you know exactly where they will come.”
Regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, or JCPOA, Merkel said, “we stand by it.” When asked how she could support the deal in light of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s recent tweet comparing Israel to a “cancer” that must be “eradicated,” Merkel condemned the language but insisted that the deal was the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu also referenced Khamenei’s tweet and asserted that it was “amazing that at the beginning of the 21st century, somebody talks about destroying Israel – that means destroying another six million-plus Jews. It is really quite extraordinary that this go on, but this is what we face.”
[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]