Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met two senior Russian officials in his office Tuesday and told them Iran must leave all of Syria, just hours before flying to Moscow on Wednesday and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu told Putin’s visiting special envoy Alexander Lavrentiev and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin that Israel will not tolerate a military presence by Iran or its proxies anywhere in Syria, and that Damascus must strictly abide by the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement that followed the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Putin is obviously well aware of Israel’s position on these matters, and the recent developments in southern Syria – where Syrian President Bashar Assad is poised to reassert his control over the area – will certainly be discussed in the Putin-Netanyahu meeting Wednesday evening.
However, Netanyahu does not need to travel to the Kremlin to tell Putin Jerusalem’s positions.
So in addition to discussing the fluid situation in Syria, the two leaders are expected to deal with other issues, and the inter-connectivity between them, such as the significance of the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal; how to get Iran to exit Syria; the sanctions on Russia as a result of the Ukrainian issue; and US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited ideas for a Mideast peace plan.
Kushner says U.S. peace plan coming soon after Middle East visit, June 24, 2018 (Reuters)
Netanyahu will be meeting Putin as a critical meeting of NATO leaders is taking place in Brussels – with Trump expected to bash his allies for not paying enough for their defense – and before the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki in five days.
The two leaders are expected to discuss those meetings as well.
In addition to Netanyahu, Ali Akbar Velayati – a senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – is also scheduled to be in Moscow on Wednesday for a meeting with Putin.
Netanyahu is expected to join Putin at Wednesday evening’s World Cup semifinal match between England and Croatia, though the Prime Minister’s Office has not confirmed his attendance.
Netanyahu was last in Moscow in May, when he joined Putin at the annual Victory Day Parade in Red Square celebrating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. The prime minister also flew to Moscow on January 29 when the two leaders went to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in the Russian capital for an event marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to travel to Moscow on Friday, and will also meet with Putin.