Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow yesterday and told Russian President Vladimir Putin that all Iranian forces must be removed from Syria.
Netanyahu said: “Every visit such as this is an opportunity for us to work together to try to stabilise the situation in our region, increase security and increase stability. It is clear that our focus is on Syria and Iran. Our view that Iran needs to leave Syria is well-known, it is not new to you.”
As the Israeli Prime Minister’s plane landed in Russia, the Israeli military announced it shot down a Syrian military drone that entered Israel’s airspace. Referring to the incident Netanyahu said of Israeli-Russian military contacts: “Co-operation between us is central to the prevention of these flare ups and deterioration of these situations and others.”
According to reports, Netanyahu also told Putin that Israel will not take any action that will undermine the Assad regime, provided that “you get the Iranians out”. According to Maariv, Israel will accept Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power if the regime maintains the 1974 Israeli-Syrian armistice agreement, all Iranian troops leave Syria, and if Russia acknowledges that Israel reserves the right to retaliate, anywhere and at any time, against Iranian provocations on the ground. It is understood that President Donald Trump will also adopt this position when he meets President Putin in Helsinki on Monday, 16 July.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday that Moscow hopes Israel and Iran will be cautious: “Their use of military force in Syria would inevitably lead to an escalation of tensions across the entire Middle East region. In that context, we rely on peaceful diplomatic means to resolve any differences and expect both sides to show restraint.”
Whilst in Moscow Netanyahu and his wife attended the England vs Croatia at the World Cup as Putin’s guests. They watched the game with two Israeli teenage cancer patients who they brought on the visit to experience the World Cup.