JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for increased action against Iran, the country it considers its biggest enemy. The prime minister spoke Thursday amid reports that Iran has been secretly hiding ballistic missiles that can reach Israel and Iraq.
Speaking after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Netanyahu said recent demonstrations against the Iranian government could be a chance to topple it.
"Iran’s aggression is growing, but its empire is tottering, and I say let's make it totter even further," he said.
Secretary Pompeo said the Trump administration wants to encourage those who want to live a normal life in Iran.
"One of the topics was how to create Middle East stability in this time where there are anti-Iran protests taking place in Baghdad, anti-Iran protests taking place in Beirut, and we all know what is going on in Iran itself. These are people that are seeking freedom and a reasonable way to live," he said.
The meeting came amid news reports that Iran has been secretly hiding short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq. The missiles reportedly are capable of hitting Israeli, American and Saudi Arabian targets.
Arab media report large explosions at an Iranian base on the Syria-Iraq border. A nearby border crossing has been bombed repeatedly in recent air strikes attributed to Israel. When reporters in Lisbon asked Netanyahu if Israel was responsible, he said, “I never talk about things like that.”
The meeting in Portugal with Secretary Pompeo was a welcome respite for Netanyahu from growing political and personal woes. Israel’s attorney general decided last month to prosecute Netanyahu in three fraud cases. At the same time, both Netanyahu and his political opponent, Benny Gantz, are running out of time to form a government after a second inconclusive election.
If there is no election deal by midnight next Wednesday, Israel is headed for its third election in a year.