JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that the resignation of Lebanon's premier, and his stated reasons, should serve as an "alarm call" to the world about Iran's ambitions.
Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri said earlier he was stepping down, citing Iran's "grip" on his country and what he called threats to his life.
"The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and his remarks are a wake-up call to the international community to take action against Iranian aggression," Netanyahu said in a Hebrew-language statement released by his office.
Israel says that Lebanon's Iran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah has long held the reins of power in Lebanon and is seeking to strengthen its role in neighbouring Syria, where it is allied to President Bashar al-Assad in the country's brutal civil war.
Iran, said Netanyahu, "is trying to turn Syria into Lebanon II".
"This aggression endangers not only Israel, but the entire Middle East," he added. "The international community must unite and stand up against this aggression."
In a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network, Hariri accused Tehran of "creating a state within the state... to the extent that it gets the final say on how Lebanon's affairs are run".
"Iran has a grip on the fate of the region's countries," Hariri said. "Hezbollah is Iran's arm not just in Lebanon but in other Arab countries too."
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Hariri confirmed what Israel has long been saying.
"In practice Lebanon has been occupied by Hezbollah and the Iranians," he told the private Reshet TV channel on Saturday.
"This axis is operating inside Lebanon, inside Syria and is extending its patronage into the Gaza Strip," Lieberman said.