Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday visited the Hermon Brigade and IDF bases overlooking the Syrian and Lebanese borders in the Shebaa farms region and the Golan Heights, assessing from up close the army’s readiness in sectors that have seen increased tension recently.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to troops in northern Israel, Wednesday – Photo: Eyal Margolin/JINI
Netanyahu and Ya’alon received security briefings from Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan and GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and met with regional council heads in the area.
Netanyahu said, “I came here to see the IDF’s preparations against the developing threats on the Golan Heights. For a while now Iran has been trying to establish a new front here; in addition to the fronts it has already established against us in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
“It’s curious to me that in the face of this terror activity by Iran, both here in the region and throughout the world, leading countries in the world are not demanding that Iran cease this activity, but are racing to forge a deal that would enable it to have nuclear weapons, and that is the greatest danger of all.
“Israel will oppose this deal, which is dangerous to us, dangerous to the region, dangerous to the world.”
According to Ya’alon, “Iran has recently intensified its efforts to open a front against us on the Golan Heights, and is trying to build a terrorist infrastructure to carry out attacks against us. This is the same Iran that reaches into Afghanistan and Iraq, into Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and everywhere it has encroached there is instability.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer met with seven House Democrats on Wednesday regarding Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint session of Congress on March 3.
Some of the seven lawmakers — all of whom are Jewish and strong supporters of Israel — urged that the prime minister postpone the speech or hold it somewhere other than Congress, participants said. They told Dermer that Netanyahu was unwise to accept an invitation that bypassed President Barack Obama and to schedule the speech only two weeks before the March 17 Knesset elections.
The meeting’s purpose was “to try to defuse the optics” of the planned speech to Congress, and to return to substantive issues involving the two nations, said Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat who hosted the gathering in his House office. Some attendees suggested a different time or venue for a Netanyahu speech, Israel told reporters, but “we have a while to go before we have to address whether or not he’s coming.”
Netanyahu’s speech will focus largely on Iran — and its nuclear program — amid delicate negotiations involving the United States, other Western powers and Iran. Netanyahu’s acceptance of Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation has infuriated the White House and many congressional Democrats.
Rep. Israel said the problem began when Boehner “decided that Israel would be a political football and he’d spike it in the end zone.”
Dermer asked for the Wednesday meeting in hopes of defusing some of the tension, lawmakers said.
Several Jewish House Democrats had met last week during the party’s retreat in Philadelphia to discuss what to do about the speech.
“I organized the meeting with Ambassador Dermer, and I invited key congressional Democratic supporters of Israel to attend,” Israel said in a statement. “There were a wide range of views that were discussed, but one thing we all agreed on emphatically is that Israel should never be used as a political football.”
The news website Politico reported on Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden, along with dozens of House Democrats, are privately threatening to skip Netanyahu’s address.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=23319