Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz Wednesday told London-based Saudi news site Elaph that Israel will not allow Iran to have military bases in Lebanon and threatened to bomb them, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Katz said that Israel knew Iranian weapons factories were being built in Lebanon.
“We have information that Iran is building advanced missile plants in Lebanon, and I want to emphasize that we have drawn a new red line, and we will not allow them to do this at any cost,” Katz was quoted as saying. Katz reportedly threatened that Israel would bomb the plants.
“We will also act militarily and prevent them, as is happening in Syria,” he said.
“The more accurate that Hezbollah’s missiles get, the stronger and wider Israel’s strike will be. This time, all of Lebanon will be a target,” Katz said
“What happened in 2006 will be a picnic compared to what we can do. I remember a Saudi minister saying they will send Hezbollah back to their caves in south Lebanon. I am telling you that we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age,” he said in reference to the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon.
Katz said that “we don’t want war, and we have no interest in destroying Lebanon, but we will not accept a Lebanese assault on us.”
Asked about whether the recent visit of the leader of an Iraqi militia to an area near the southern Lebanese border was a message for Israel, Katz reportedly responded that Iran doesn’t need to send any messages because Israel already knows exactly what the Iranians are doing in the region, Haaretz reported.
Describing the possible steps that could be taken against Hezbollah in the future, Katz said he suggested Israel use military and economic routes to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.
“I recently suggested to [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu that we act militarily and economically to implement [UNSC 1701] that was adopted unanimously after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, … apply sanctions on Hezbollah and Iran and that, under the leadership of the United States and with the consent of China and Russia, we intervene militarily if there is a need,” he said
“[Netanyahu] spoke about this with French President [Emmanuel] Macron and with the European Union. This is a decision that was taken unambiguously,” Katz said, “and instead of adopting new resolutions, we will invoke this to deprive Hezbollah of its weapons.”
“The Arab League considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization as does Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan,” Katz added. “The entire world [does.]”.
Invites Saudi Crown Prince to Israel
Katz has invited Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to visit Israel in the same interview with the Saudi news outlet, according to Haaretz.
Katz confirmed to the Israeli daily that he extended the invitation to Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday in the interview with the UK-based independent news website Elaph.
Katz, in the interview, described Saudi Arabia as the “leader of the Arab world” and recommended that peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel happen under the kingdom’s auspices.
Israeli-Palestinian talks have been at a standstill, but US President Donald Trump had pledged to revive talks, with the US acting as a mediator in the process.
Last week, Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while planning to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “disqualify” the US to act as a mediator in future talks.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has reiterated the kingdom’s stated commitment to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
This has been the kingdom’s official position on Trump’s decision. The US move triggered a wave of protests from the Arab and Islamic world.
Katz also talked of a railway proposal that would connect Israel’s port city of Haifa to the Arabian Gulf.
“This is not a dream at all. This could become a reality very soon,” he said.
The project proposes a shorter and cheaper route to transfer goods from Europe and the Americas, said Katz, as a railway would extend from Israel through King Hussein Bridge crossing with Jordan.
“The Jordanians would then go on to extend that from the northern town of Irbid, all the way to the Saudi border,” he added. “This is what we propose to the Gulf.”
Katz concluded the interview by drawing attention to “Iranian influence” in the region once again. Despite Iran’s “interference to destabilise the region”, Katz pointed to the railway project as an opportunity to achieve lasting peace.