Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with US President Donald Trump at the Oval Office .
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Israel is completely coordinated with the US regarding the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Thursday, hours after US Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that Israel should be “very careful making agreements with Russia re Syria that affect US interests.”
Graham is one of Israel's staunchest supporters in the senate. Netanyahu, in his comments, chose to highlight the second part of Graham's tweet, which was that he does not trust “Russia to police Iran or anyone else in Syria.”
The US, Graham said, must “maintain presence in Syria to ensure ISIS doesn't come back and to counter Russia/Iran influence.”
In a switch, Trump to keep troops in Syria for now, April 4, 2018 (Reuters)
Asked about US President Donald Trump's comments a few months ago that he wanted to withdraw US troops from Syria, Netanyahu said in response that he heard US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say recently that the US troops should remain in Syria until Iran exits.
While repeating that Israel's demand was for Iran to leave Syria, he said that there were three immediate priorities: that Iranian and Hezbollah forces be distanced from the border with Israel, that the Iranian long range missiles in Syria be removed, and that people are not “slaughtered” in the buffer zone with Israel.
Netanyahu said Israel has attacked Islamic State “all over the world.”
Netanyahu said that the Russians have distanced Iran dozens of kilometers from the border, and that there has only been some isolated cases of Iranian or Shia militias coming back to the border disguised as Syrian President Bashar Assad forces.
Regarding other issues, Netanyahu – asked if the country was on the cusp on few elections – said that he hoped that they would be held close to their scheduled time, but that the matter was not only in his hand, a reference to Agudat Yisrael threat to leave the coalition over the haredi enlistment law.
At the end of the briefing, when no one had asked about the investigations, Netanyahu himself brought up the issue. “Isn't anyone going to ask about the investigations.”
“It is nothing,” he said, answering his own question, and changing his standard mantra of “there will be nothing , because there is nothing.”
“It is nothing,: he said. “With a capital 'N.'” The prime minister revealed that he has a busy travelling month in August, that will likely include a meeting with the leaders of the Balkan countries in Croatia, a meeting with the leaders of the Baltic states, and a likely trip to Colombia for the inaguration of the new presdient there -- an event that will be attended by many Latin American leaders.