Netanyahu visits IDF drill in Golan Heights.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
The cabinet is scheduled to hold its weekly meeting on the Golan Heights on Sunday, to send a message to the international community that Israel has no intention of relinquishing the area.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to underline this point in a statement to the press at the outset of the meeting.
Netanyahu relayed to US Secretary of State John Kerry in a recent phone conversation Israel’s concerns about a draft agreement intended to end the Syrian civil war that includes a clause calling for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria, Channel 10 reported on Monday.
Israel took control of the Golan Heights during the Six Day War, and extended Israeli law to it in 1981, de facto annexing it.
According to the report, Netanyahu made clear that such language would be unacceptable to Israel. He is expected to discuss this issue – as well as Israel’s interest in any future Syrian agreement – when he flies to Moscow on Thursday for one day for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Among the other issues he is expected to raise with Putin are continued military coordination between the two countries to ensure there is no accidental engagement of Israeli and Russian forces in Syria; the sale of Russian weapons, such as the S-300 anti-missile system, to Iran; and concern in Jerusalem that Syria and Iran are transferring advance weaponry to Hezbollah.
This will be Netanyahu’s third meeting with Putin since September, when he paid another lightening visit to the Moscow, to set up a mechanism to prevent the accidental confrontation of Russian and Israeli fighter planes over Syria.
Two months later, he met the Russian president on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference. The two leaders also speak regularly on the phone.
The cabinet meeting on the Golan will be the second time in a week that Netanyahu has gone to the area, having observed a large military training exercise there on Monday. During that visit Netanyahu surprised many observers by acknowledging that Israel has acted dozens of times beyond the northern border to prevent Hezbollah from attaining “game-changing weaponry.”