Netanyahu Meets Pompeo in Lisbon, Calls for More Pressure on Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters/Hamodia) -
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during their meeting in Lisbon Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the United States to keep the pressure on Iran at a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon on Wednesday night.

“Iran’s aggression is growing, but its empire is tottering. And I say: let’s make it totter even further,” he said, adding that “as we speak, literally today, in the region,” Iran continues its reach for hegemony.

“We’re actively engaged in countering that aggression,” he commented, though he refused to comment on reports in the Arab media about an airstrike on an Iranian weapons site in Syria on Wednesday.

“I never talk about that,” he responded to a reporter’s question.

Pompeo talked about the unrest within Iran, during which the regime killed scores of protesters demonstrating against economic hardships which they blame on the government.

“These are people seeking freedom [and a] reasonable way to live. And they recognize the threat that is posed by kleptocrats that are running the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

While en route to Lisbon, Netanyahu told reporters on his plane that U.S. sanctions are worsening the economic conditions in Iran, “which will create greater political problems for the regime.”

Weakening Iran is one of Israel’s “key goals” and that’s the reason for seeing Pompeo on Wednesday night, Netanyahu said.

However, he said that he believes there is no chance European countries will join the sanctions campaign, according to The Times of Israel.

In the midair briefing, Netanyahu also said that he prevented a meeting between President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly last September. Trump had let it be known that he was open to such a meeting, but Netanyahu persuaded him that it would only help Iran’s cause, the Times reported.

Not unsurprisingly, in the highly-charged Israeli political atmosphere, there were those who dismissed the trip as a mere diversion from domestic troubles.

The Associated Press led off its story with an assertion that the prime minister was “looking to escape his legal and political woes at home.”

An article in the Times derided him for using Pompeo as a “prop” in the election campaign now that unity talks have failed.

“Netanyahu is working to show himself as the peerless statesman,” traveling the world to protect national security while Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is “touring the desolate Ramat Negev region. It’s quite the contrast.”

Updated Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 3:37 pm .