Netanyahu: Israel Will Never Withdraw From Golan

Prime Minister tells Russian-language reporters he is ready to stand up to Obama.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of Russian-language reporters Thursday that Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.

"Remaining on the Golan will ensure Israel has a strategic advantage in cases of military conflict with Syria," Netanyahu said during a briefing he gave to the reporters.

His comments were published Friday on several Russian-language Israeli Web sites.

A week-and-a-half out from Netanyahu's scheduled visit to Washington, the prime minister stressed that he is ready to stand up to U.S. President Barack Obama and that he would not give up on matters that in his opinion are critical to Israel's security.

Netanyahu said that he intends to emphasize to Obama the need to deal with Iran and its "nuclear program, which is a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East."

"If Iran turns into a nuclear power they will force all Arab states to ally with it, and the extreme Iranian regime that revealed its plan to eliminate Israel will not allow Arab states to normalize relations with Israel," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also told the reporters that he would not present preconditions for negotiations with the Palestinians and would not accept preconditions from them.

He said relations with Russia are important, but called the Russian supply of weapons to Iran a mistake.