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February 3, 2019 10:37 am

Israeli PM Cautions Visiting UN Diplomats Over Growing Iranian Influence in Lebanon

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a visiting delegation of UN ambassadors in Jerusalem, Feb. 3, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned a visiting delegation of UN ambassadors on Sunday over growing Iranian influence in Lebanon, where a new national unity government — including a bolstered Hezbollah role — was formed this week.

“A great shift has taken place in the Middle East,” Netanyahu told the diplomats in a briefing before they toured Israel’s northern border. “That shift is the rise of the aggressive theocracy of Iran that seeks to conquer the Middle East, eliminate Israel and dominate many other parts of the world.”

“Iran has proxies,” he noted. “One of them is Hezbollah. Hezbollah just joined the government of Lebanon. That’s a misnomer; they actually control the government of Lebanon. It means that Iran controls the government of Lebanon.”

“It’s important to send this very powerful message just as we stop the terror tunnels coming into Israel, we will stop all the aggression — from Lebanon or from Syria or from Iran itself,” Netanyahu went on to say. “We are committed to preventing this aggression, and in so doing we’re not only protecting Israel itself, but also protecting our neighbors and world peace.”

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While in the north on Sunday, the group of foreign officials — who first traveled to Holocaust sites in Poland before arriving in Israel — viewed a Hezbollah-built cross-border tunnel recently uncovered by the IDF.

“The struggle against Hezbollah is also a diplomatic struggle,” Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon — the leader of the delegation — said. “Hezbollah has established a state in southern Lebanon and built several tunnels to harm Israeli residents. This is an opportunity for the international community to call on the Lebanese government to renounce Hezbollah, instead of giving it portfolios in the government, and demand the Security Council recognize it as a terrorist organization immediately.”

In an interview with The Algemeiner last Monday, Danon stated, “Most of the time when I speak at the UN, I talk about our right to self-defense, our right to defend our borders and our people. And I think that once you experience that reality, when leaders or nations which threaten to annihilate the Jewish people come along, you don’t ignore them.”

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