RFL/RE – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the cease-fire in southwest Syria forged by Russia and the United States because it would enable Iran to solidify its military presence there, media reported on July 17.
The July 9 accord created a de-escalation zone in areas of Syria that border Israel and Jordan.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron in a July 16 meeting in Paris that he opposes the deal.
Citing a senior Israeli official, Haaretz said Israel believes Iran aims to expand its presence in Syria by building an airbase, a naval base, and stationing extensive military forces there. Iran currently provides militias and military advisers to aid the Syrian government’s fight against rebel forces.
AFP also reported that Netanyahu opposes the cease-fire deal because it reinforces the Iranian presence in Syria.
Netanyahu has repeatedly called Iran a threat to Israel and has publicly worried about the presence of Iranian-backed militias in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Israel has nothing to worry about.
“I can guarantee that the American side and we did the best we can to make sure that Israel’s security interests are fully taken
into consideration,” he told reporters in Minsk on July 17.