At Meeting With Putin, Netanyahu Says Israel Taking Action Against ‘Intolerable Threat’ Posed by Iran in Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew on Thursday to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sit-downs between Netanyahu and Putin have become a relatively frequent occurrence since Russia’s military intervention in Syria — on behalf of the Assad regime — began in 2015.
Netanyahu also met on Thursday with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
“The security coordination between us is always important, but it is especially important at this time because last month saw a very serious upsurge in the number of attempts by Iran to attack Israel from Syrian territory, and also to place precision missiles there against us,” the Israeli prime minister said at the start of his meeting with Putin. “From our point-of-view, this is an intolerable threat and we are taking action. Therefore, we must also ensure that the coordination between us prevents friction. We are indeed doing this and we will continue — I am certain — to do so in our conversation as well.”
The Israeli military has reportedly conducted hundreds of strikes in Syria to forestall Iranian entrenchment there and thwart the transfer of advanced weaponry from the Tehran regime to Hezbollah.
Commenting on the state of ties with Israel in recent years, the Russian president told Netanyahu on Thursday, “It is largely due to your efforts that our relations have acquired a new quality in both security and military cooperation issues. We all know how important this is, especially considering the persisting threat from international terrorism.”
Putin also said that he had accepted an invitation from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to visit the Jewish state in early 2020.
Back home, Netanyahu — head of the right-wing Likud party — is facing a stiff challenge from ex-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White alliance, in the Knesset elections that will take place on Tuesday.
This will be the second time in six months that Israelis head to the voting booths, following Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition after April’s elections and the new Knesset’s subsequent decision to disperse itself.
The campaign has largely focused on the corruption allegations dogging Netanyahu, rather than war and peace or the economy.