Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Sunday that he welcomed the efforts to achieve a long-term cease-fire in Syria but warned that Israel would continue to defend its own interests there.
Those interests, he said, included preventing the transfer of advanced weaponry from Syria to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite organization, and blocking any Iranian-backed attacks against Israel from Syrian territory.
“Anything that stops the terrible killing there is important especially from a humanitarian standpoint,” Mr. Netanyahu said in remarks before his weekly cabinet meeting.
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“But it must be clear at the same time that any agreement in Syria must include a halt to Iran’s aggression toward Israel from Syrian territory,” he added. “We will not agree to the supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah from Syria and Lebanon. We will not agree to the creation of a second terror front on the Golan Heights. These are the red lines that we have set and they remain the red lines of the State of Israel.”
Israel has repeatedly stated that it does not take sides in the Syrian civil war and has avoided getting involved in the fighting. But over the last few years numerous airstrikes against weapons storehouses in Syria and convoys apparently destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon have been attributed to Israel. Israeli officials have refused to accept responsibility for specific attacks, preferring to maintain ambiguity in part to lower the risk of retaliation. But they have openly warned that Israel would act if its adversaries posed any threat.