The two leaders agreed on the magnitude of the Iranian threat, but seemed to differ greatly on how to tackle it.
Watch: Netanyahu’s statement in Germany
Photo and video credit: GPO
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a joint press conference on Monday following their meeting in Berlin. The two leaders addressed their mutual concern over Iran’s aspirations for nuclear weapons, but presented different views on how to tackle the threat.
“We spent the majority of our meeting discussing the nuclear deal as well as Iran’s influence in Syria,” Merkel said. “Regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, Germany and its European allies have a disagreement (with Israel), but we are aware that Iran’s bad influence on the stability of the Middle East is harmful to Israel’s security. We need to make all the diplomatic efforts in order to prevent that.”
“We know that we do not agree on all the issues we spoke about, but we are friends, we are partners and we will continue to try and find a mutual understanding,” she added.
Addressing the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Merkel said a peace process is “important” and stressed that Germany “believes in a two-state solution despite the fact that the situation is difficult now.” She added that she and Netanyahu had also spoken about “the exploitation of children and civilians (by Hamas) … as well as the importance of providing economic support to Gaza.”
Netanyahu praised Merkel for sustaining the positive relations between Israel and Germany. “Your commitment to Israel’s security and the future of the Jewish state is deeply appreciated by me and by the people of Israel,” he said.
“The greatest challenge that the civilized world faces today is the danger that comes out from militant Islamic states that are bent on aggression and on acquiring a nuclear arsenal,” Netanyahu added. “Iran calls for our destruction, but it’s also seeking nuclear weapons to carry out its genocidal desires. We know that for a fact. … The other danger from Iran is that it’s trying to conquer the Middle East. It’s doing so in Iran, in Yemen and in other places.”
“The Iranian military presence right now in Syria includes about 18,000 Shiite militia … that have a specific goal – a military goal but also a religious goal,” Netanyahu said, claiming that Iran wants to “basically conduct a religious campaign in the largely-Sunni Syria. … This will inflame another religious war.”
Netanyahu is expected to leave for France later today, where he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron. On Wednesday, he is expected to meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.