'We will continue to block Iran’s efforts to use Syria'

Netanyahu issues warning to Syria and Iran at the start of his meeting with the President of Ukraine.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Haim Zach/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday evening met at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The two attended the signing – by Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen and Ukrainian Economic Development and Trade Minister Stepan Kubiv – of a bilateral free trade agreement which is due to increase the volume of trade between the two countries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting, "This is his third visit to Israel since taking office in 2014, and it’s a testament to the strong relations between Ukraine and Israel. These ties have deep historical and cultural roots. Ukrainian Jews make up a significant portion of the population of Israel. And Ukraine is home to a large Jewish community. I think it’s the fourth largest Jewish community in Europe. I appreciate your continued efforts to eliminate hate speech and combat antisemitism in Ukraine.”

“During your first official visit to Israel, you addressed the Knesset. And in this wonderful speech, you said something. You quoted a Ukrainian citizen in the airport going to Israel. He said, 'Is this a domestic or an international flight?' Kiev-Tel Aviv. And I think that it’s not merely that flights between our two respective countries are frequent and full, but it’s also a reflection of the full relations between the Jewish community in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Jews who made Aliyah to Israel who have become an integral part of our society. I’m also very happy that these flights are filled with businessmen and businesswomen, entrepreneurs, people who seek to expand the investments and the trade between our countries,” added Netanyahu.

“They have grown, both of them, in recent years. Today we’re going to do something that will make it grow even bigger. We’re about to sign a Free Trade Agreement. We’ve worked on this for many years. The bureaucracies have had all the opportunities to prevent this from happening. We overcame it,” said the Prime Minister.

“I want to thank Ministers Eli Cohen and Ze’ev Elkin and the First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Stepan Kubiv, for helping us overcome bureaucratic hurdles, for your extensive work to finalize this important agreement. As you can see from the size of it, it’s enormous. It’s 1,500 pages, so a lot of effort went into every detail.”

“During your visit we will also talk of other ways to increase our cooperation in a variety of fields – in technology, in health, in aerospace, in science and more.”

“We are building a more prosperous future for our people. Each of us is doing it on our own, but I think that together, we can do even better. And as we seize the future, we must also work together to advance first innovation, technology, industry – that’s the future – but also to work against the forces that wish to drag us into the past, because we’re a part of the same civilization. And this civilization values freedom, liberty, and it values peace,” said Netanyahu.

He reminded that this civilization is “under attack today, most notably by the forces of militant Islam. The most potent force of militant Islam is the Iranian regime. It is devouring one nation after the other – Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq – and it’s killing civilians around the world.”

“Yesterday, the Iranian regime launched a missile from Syria targeting civilians in Israel. We responded to this unacceptable act of aggression by striking Iranian targets in Syria. Israel will continue to block Iran’s efforts to use Syria, Lebanon and Gaza as forward bases for attacking Israel for the express purpose which they openly declare: destroying Israel. No country should stand aside while its destruction is being planned or advanced,” said Netanyahu.

He warned that “Israel exercises its basic right of self-defense and preemptive self-defense, a right that exists for every nation. We will continue to take all the necessary actions to protect our people and defend our borders, and we will continue to respond with force to anyone that tries to harm us.”