German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that Iran’s policy in Syria is a threat to Israel and that Germany is working to ensure Iranian forces don’t get “too close to the Golan Heights.”
She made the comments in an interview with Kan 11 News.
“I believe that it is important and reasonable for Israel to represent its security interests, and the situation in Syria is naturally also very threatening for Israel,” Merkel said.
Merkel added that she had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue of Iranian forces near the Golan Heights as it clearly worries Israel.
Her comments follow last week’s Israeli air strikes on Iranian targets in Damascus, which came in retaliation for the launching of a surface-to-surface rocket by Iranian Quds toward the northern Golan Heights.
In the past, Israel has not publicly commented on its air strikes in Syria, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu broke with his country’s long-standing policy of not publicly accepting responsibility for airstrikes in Syria, and acknowledged that Israel’s air force had attacked Iranian weapons depots at the Damascus International Airport.
After last week’s Israeli air strike, Netanyahu warned Iran and Syria that Israel will not tolerate “acts of aggression”, nor will it accept Iran’s continued presence on Syrian soil.
Russia and Israel had in the past been coordinated regarding Israeli air strikes in Syria, but relations had cooled since the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane over Syria in September.
In recent weeks there have been signs that the Israeli-Russian coordination is resuming. Netanyahu in early January held talks with Putin for the first time since Washington's shock announcement it was withdrawing its forces from Syria.