Lieberman to Russia: Israel ‘Won’t Allow’ Iran and Hezbollah in Golan Heights
JNS.org – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Russian officials this week that Israel “won’t allow concentrations of Iranian and Hezbollah forces on the Golan Heights.”
Lieberman met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday while attending the International Moscow Security Conference. The gathering drew officials from 24 countries, including Iran and Syria.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who also attended the conference, echoed concern over Iran’s regional activity in his own meeting with Lavrov, saying Saudi Arabia “would like to put an end to Iran’s involvement in the region. We believe that they have no place in Syria or in any other part of the world. These groups influence the situations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf countries, Yemen. Hezbollah is carrying out its operations in various Middle East regions and follows Iran’s agenda.”
Responding to Jubeir’s comments, Lavrov said Russia did not view the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria as a problem.
“We don’t see Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” Lavrov said. “We believe that both of them (Iran and Hezbollah) — like Russia’s air force — came to Syria following the request of the legitimate government.”
Despite Israel’s disagreements with Russia on Iran and Hezbollah, Lieberman said Israeli coordination with Russian forces in Syria has gone smoothly. To date, he noted, “there have been nine meetings between representatives of the IDF and representatives of the Russian military. This mechanism has proven itself to be an effective mechanism that prevents unnecessary friction.”