Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the threat from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian aggression during a meeting with U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Brussels.
Netanyahu left for the meeting on Monday, hours after it was announced, and returned early on Tuesday morning.
Pompeo “emphasized the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and absolute right to self-defence and to fighting anti-Israeli bias at the United Nations,” state department representative Heather Nauert said in a statement. “The secretary reiterated U.S. support for warming ties and increased dialogue between Israel and its neighbours in the Middle East and Africa, including Oman and Chad. Secretary Pompeo noted the strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance and our multifaceted cooperation. He reiterated America’s resolve in confronting the totality of the Iranian regime’s threats through maximum pressure.”
Pompeo was in Brussels for a NATO meeting of foreign ministers. The meeting with Netanyahu was originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, but had to be moved up so that Pompeo could return to the United States for the funeral of former president George H.W. Bush.
Prior to departing for Brussels, Netanyahu had said in a statement: “I will discuss with Mike Pompeo a series of regional developments as well as the steps we are taking together to block the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the north.”
At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu lit Hanukkah candles for the second night of the holiday with Pompeo.
Netanyahu said in front of reporters: “I want to thank you for everything that you’re doing, for your strong statements on the latest violation by Iran on the ballistic missiles. I look forward to discussing with you how we can together curb Iran’s aggression in the region, in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon and elsewhere, and to continue our efforts to achieve peace and security for everyone.”
Netanyahu updated Pompeo on the operation Northern Shield to destroy tunnels built by Hezbollah between Lebanon and Israel. He called the tunnels “a gross violation of Israeli sovereignty and of UN Security Resolution #1701,” which ended the 2006 Lebanon War.