Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a ceremony in Paris on July 16, 2017.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his opposition to a US-Russian ceasefire deal recently reached in southern Syria during his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Netanyahu told reporters after the meeting on Sunday that Tel Aviv totally opposes the truce agreement in southern Syria, which he alleged consolidates Iran’s presence in the Arab country.
A top Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that Tehran was interested in deploying extensive military forces including the establishment of an airbase for Iranian aircraft and a naval base in Syria besides sending advisers to the Arab country.
The Israeli premier also discussed the truce deal with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by phone on Sunday night.
On July 7, Russia, the US and Jordan agreed to back a ceasefire in southwestern Syria and to establish a de-escalation zone covering the provinces of Dara’a, Suwayda and Quneitra, in an area bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The trilateral agreement on the cessation of hostilities was announced after a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart, Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in the German city of Hamburg.
Netanyahu’s remarks revealed a major disagreement between Tel Aviv and the two great powers that had until now been kept under wraps and expressed only through quiet diplomatic channels.
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on July 16, 2017 ahead of their meeting. (Photo by AFP)
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says Tel Aviv and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri militant groups wreaking havoc in the country.
Israel regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, describing the attacks as retaliatory. Damascus says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces.
On several occasions, the Syrian army has confiscated Israeli-made arms and military equipment from terrorists fighting government forces. There are also reports that Israel has been providing medical treatment to the extremists wounded in Syria.
Last month, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed concerns about a spike in contacts between Israeli armed forces and Syria militants in recent months, saying it could lead to escalation and cause harm to UN observers deployed to the Golan Heights.
Also, tThe Wall Street Journal recently reported Israel has been providing Takfiri terrorists in Syria’s Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds and medical supplies.
The meeting between Netanyahu and Macron took place at the Élysée Palace in Paris and lasted an hour and a half. A portion of the meeting was conducted in private.