Kicking off a three-day European tour, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday. The goal of his tour according to Reuters is to persuade leaders of Germany, France, and the UK that it’s in the best interest of their countries and the world to pull out of the multi-national Iranian nuclear deal, formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In an effort to persuade Merkel to align Germany with the strategy of Israel and the U.S., Netanyahu spoke about what he believes will happen if the European community stays in the JCPOA. While the two agreed on many aspects of the situation, they remain divided by one — what to do about the current situation.
In arguing his perspective, the prime minister said that he is convinced that Iran used the money that flows to them under lifted sanctions of the JCPOA to finance their military efforts. They used the money, he said, to grow their Shi’ite militia and deploy them to convert Sunni Muslims to the Shi’ite branch of Islam. He added, “This will inflame a religious war, and the consequences will be many more refugees, and you know exactly where they’ll come.” German Chancellor Merkel stood by her decision and that of other European leaders to remain committed to the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal.
CNN reports that the chancellor stated on what points she agrees with Netanyahu and on which points they differ.
“We agree that Iran’s regional influence is a cause for concern, especially for Israel’s security. This is why we feel we ought to make every diplomatic effort we can in order to address the ballistic missile program of Iran but also its activities in Yemen, the presence of its army in Syria, and to exert our influence in such a way that Iran is pushed out of this region, particularly a region close to Israel.”
Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated that “Iran should leave Syria, all parts of Syria, that is our position” and offered his opinion that this is best done by terminating the nuclear deal. The reasons for Israel’s insistence that Iran must leave Syria as soon as possible are clear from statements and actions made by Iran against Israel. Sunday, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that Iran views Israel as a “malignant cancerous tumor… that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel summed up the day well when she said that she shares the same views as Israel that it has a right to feel secure and that Iran must not have a nuclear weapon. Where she and other European leaders disagree with Netanyahu is how to achieve that goal.