Netanyahu says Israel is an 'indispensable ally' of the Arabs against Iran

Updated January 01, 2019

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Netanyahu was in Brazil to attend the inauguration of Brazil's new pro-Israel president, Jair Bolsonaro. — File
Netanyahu was in Brazil to attend the inauguration of Brazil's new pro-Israel president, Jair Bolsonaro. — File

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Arab countries viewed Israel as an “indispensable ally” fighting Iran and the militant Islamic State group.

That evaluation, he told Brazil's Globo TV during a visit to Rio, has caused “a revolution in relations with the Arab world.”

The comments came as Israel has stepped up air strikes on Iranian positions in neighboring Syria, and as Israel digested an abrupt decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from Syria.

Read: Iran's Rouhani calls Israel a 'cancerous tumor'

Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons to destroy his country.

“Unfortunately we have not made any advance with the Palestinians. Half of them are already under the gun of Iran and of radical Islam,” Netanyahu added.

Asked if he could ever contemplate sitting down with an Iranian leader to talk peace, Netanyahu replied: “If Iran remains committed to our destruction the answer is no.”

The only way, he said, would be “if Iran undergoes a total transformation.”

Netanyahu was in Brazil to attend Tuesday's inauguration of the Latin American country's new, pro-Israel president, Jair Bolsonaro.

On the sidelines of the ceremony, Netanyahu was to hold talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is also among the visiting dignitaries.

They were expected to discuss the US troop pullout from Syria and Iranian activities in the Middle East.