Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference in Jerusalem that the world must form a united front against Iran’s aggression and terrorism.
“We have to defeat the forces that want to drag us into the past and I believe that our hopes for the future are being challenged today by the forces of radical Islam and primarily the forces of Daesh on the one side and Iran and its proxies on the other side,” Netanyahu said on Thursday, using the Arabic name for ISIS.
Netanyahu made a pointed criticism of the JCPOA – the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – which Merkel and her European counterparts are attempting to salvage after the US withdrew on May 8, reimposing tough sanctions on the Tehran regime. Netanyahu condemned the deal for having aided the “leading aggressor in the Middle East,” saying that its sanctions relief clauses were “funding Iran’s war machine.”
Netanyahu also pointed out that “Iran’s aggression also extends to Europe,” pointing to a recently foiled Iranian terrorist plot in Paris, which was discovered by Israeli intelligence and conveyed to European security services.
The prime minister called for a global front against Iran, saying, “I believe that all nations must join together to press the Iranian regime to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program … but also to cease its terror activities in Europe and around the world. And also to stop using Syria as a base for attacks against Israel. And ultimately they have to get out of Syria altogether.”
Citing Israel and Germany’s close relations despite the legacy of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said, “We overcame the horrors of the past. We will never forget. We will never forget. And you will never forget.”
According to Israel’s Channel Two, Merkel echoed this sentiment, saying her country has an eternal bond and responsibility to Israel because of the Holocaust.
She also appeared to agree with Netanyahu on certain points, saying, “We must do everything in order to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, but on the way to this goal there are differences of opinion. … I spoke with the Russian president and we talked about removing Iranian forces from Syria. We want zero Iranian presence. We will do everything within our power in order to lower the danger.”
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she reiterated her support for a two-state solution.
Merkel met earlier in the day with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who told her that Israel had no choice but to challenge Europe’s attempts to save the nuclear deal.
“This is the moment to levy effective sanctions on Iran,” Rvlin said. “The Iranian monster must be starved, not fed. This is the only means of protecting regional stability. … We ask Germany to stand by our side.”