JERUSALEM (JTA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will welcome a “genuine cease-fire” in Syria.
Netanyahu’s comments came Sunday as a cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia went into effect in southwest Syria, near the border with northern Israel’s Golan Heights.
“Israel will welcome a genuine cease-fire in Syria, but this cease-fire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular,” Netanyahu said Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu said he had “had deep discussions about this last week with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both told me that they understand Israel’s position and will take our demands into account.”
Netanyahu said that Israel will “continue to monitor developments beyond our borders.”
He said Israel also would uphold its red lines: “Prevent the strengthening of Hezbollah via Syria, with emphasis on the acquisition of precision weapons, prevent Hezbollah – or Iranian forces – from establishing a ground presence along our border, and prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria as a whole.”
The cease-fire was announced Friday in Hamburg, Germany, after Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump met on the sidelines of the G-20 conference. It went into effect at noon on Sunday.
Jordan also has been seriously involved in the talks over the cease-fire, which began several months ago and took Amman’s security concerns heavily into account, according to reports.
Rocket or mortar fire – believed to be stray fire from the fighting between rebels and the Syrian army in the area that is now under cease-fire – has struck the Golan Heights numerous times in recent months. Israel’s military has responded to all of the incidents.