Israel's ambassador to Russia has been called in by the Russian Foreign Ministry for clarifications Friday after Israel's air force attacked in Syria overnight, a statement by Moscow said. The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the statement.
Ambassador Gary Koren, who filed his letter of credence to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, was called in for a talk with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on the recent developments in Syria, a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
It is relatively rare for Israeli ambassadors to be summoned for such a talk in the wake of air force action in Syria. Since Russian forces entered Syria two years ago, a number of attacks attributed to Israel have taken place, but in none of the cases was the Israeli envoy to Moscow asked to give clarifications.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu published a short response to the events in Syria, saying Israel will continue to prevent advanced arms from reaching Hezbollah. "When we identify attempts to transfer advanced arms to Hezbollah, and we have intelligence information and we have the operational plan, we act to prevent it," Netanyahu said. "That's what happened and that's what will happen."
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Chanel 10 on Friday that Israel didn't brief Russia before carrying out the strike overnight. According to Katz, the strike was made in the wake of Syrian President Bashar Assad's attempts to change the rules of the game vis-à-vis Israel. "We will not let Syria become a dangerous hub of Hezbollah activity," he said.
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Just last Thursday Netanyahu visited Moscow and met with Putin to discuss the situation in Syria. Netanyahu said that he stressed during the meeting that Israel was not opposed to a political arrangement that would end the civil war in Syria as long as it doesn't include the permanent presence of Iran or its proxies in the country.
"I made this clear and I think the message was internalized," he said, adding that he wanted to clarify for Putin Israel's position regarding any political settlement in Syria.
"It was important for me that even if an agreement took time, that Israel's position will remain clear," Netanyahu said. "I stressed our strong opposition to Iran or its proxies establishing themselves in Syria. We see that Iran is trying to establish a naval base in Syria.
"This has serious implications for Israeli security. I told Putin this would threaten stability and hurt the possibility of achieving a political settlement in Syria," Netanyahu said.
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