Netanyahu Warned Iran Through Europeans Before Clash in Syria

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Yerushalayim, Sunday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Israel has sent strongly-worded messages to Tehran, through European diplomatic channels in recent days, warning against attempts to establish military bases in Syria or missile factories in Lebanon, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Sunday night.

Citing European diplomatic sources, the report said that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered the message a number of times in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

It was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, that Mr. Netanyahu met in person with Macron and Merkel and reportedly asked them to convey his message to the Iranian leaders.

In those conversations, Mr. Netanyahu stressed that Israel desired a diplomatic solution to the problem, but failing that, it would not hesitate to use military means. The Israeli air strike in Syria over Shabbos was triggered by an Iranian drone that penetrated Israeli air space.

The three countries conveyed the Israeli warnings to Iranian officials close to President Hassan Rouhani.

“We raised the issue with Rouhani’s people and told them that it was important for us to convey the information because perhaps President Rouhani is not aware of everything that the Revolutionary Guards are doing in Syria and Lebanon,” one European official was quoted as saying.

The official said that the Iranian officials took note of the Israeli warning, but did not respond.

Two of four diplomats that spoke with Channel 10 said that at the request of their governments, Israel furnished them with intelligence data indicating the construction of missile factories. Although they were still unpersuaded of the accuracy of Mr. Netanyahu’s claims about the factories in Lebanon, they passed along the prime minister’s message nonetheless.