by: Ilse Strauss
Friday, 13 September 2019 | Five days before Israel heads to the polls for the second national elections this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down yesterday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, to discuss the topic foremost on the Israeli premier’s mind: Iranian ambitions to entrench itself on Israel’s doorstep in Syria—and Jerusalem’s dedication to thwart those ambitions.
Netanyahu highlighted the dramatic uptick in Iranian attacks against Israel from Syria in recent weeks, condemning the aggression as an “intolerable threat” that Jerusalem will act against. The increased hostility, he added, makes military cooperation between Jerusalem and Moscow increasingly important.
Netanyahu lauded the close ties between him and Putin as instrumental in facilitating the necessary coordination between Israeli and Russian militaries operating beyond the Jewish state’s northern border to “prevent unnecessary and dangerous friction.” Russia has been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the Syrian Civil War and maintains a comprehensive military presence in the war-torn country.
“I say openly that this is a basic element in regional security,” Netanyahu said. “The military cooperation between us is always important, but it is especially important at this time, since in the last month there has been a very grave increase in the number of Iranian attempts to attack Israel from Syria, and also to place precision missiles there against us.”
“This is an intolerable threat, from our perspective, and we are acting [against it], and therefore we are also obligated to ensure that our coordination prevents friction,” Netanyahu said. “We’re indeed doing this, and will continue doing it, I am sure also in our conversation now.”
For his part, Putin also hailed “a new quality” of security cooperation between Israel and Russia, saying that the closer ties was “largely thanks” to Netanyahu, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Putin acknowledged the upcoming Israeli elections. In what the Times of Israel termed “a hint” toward who he prefers as Israel’s next prime minister and the Jerusalem Post hailed as “pre-election support from Putin,” the Russian leader said, “Russia cares a lot about who will be elected to the Knesset (parliament), and I hope that whoever enters the Knesset will continue bilateral ties between the countries and will push out relationship forward.”
“We know that a million and a half Soviet Union repatriates are currently residing in Israel,” Putin explained his country’s vested interest. “We always treated them as our people, our compatriots.”
Netanyahu also acknowledged the large number of his countrymen and women who emigrated from former Soviet Union countries to the Jewish state, saying that they bond the two nations together as a “human bridge.”
Yesterday’s meeting took place Black Sea resort town of Sochi. It was the 13th time in four years that the two world leaders sat down for a face-to-face discussion.
Posted on September 13, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 13, 2019)
Photo Credit: Ruptly/YouTube/screenshot
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