Netanyahu Tells Russian Defense Chief: Israel Won’t Allow Iranian Foothold in Syria

Iran 'needs to understand' that Israel will not allow its forces to garrison in Syria, Netanyahu tells Russia's Sergey Shoygu

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Jerusalem. October 17, 2017
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Jerusalem. October 17, 2017 Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday with the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister's Bureau said that Netanyahu stressed to Shoygu that Israel would not allow the Iranian military to gain a foothold in Syria. "Iran needs to understand that," he said.

During the meeting with Shoygu, Netanyahu also raised the issue of the nuclear accord between Iran and the world powers, saying that if changes won't be made to the accord, Iran will be able to create a nuclear arsenal within eight to 10 years.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also participated in the meeting.

During his meeting with Shoygu at the Defense Ministry on Monday, Lieberman stressed that Israel has no desire to get involved in internal Syrian matters, but would also refuse to allow Iran and Hezbollah "to turn Syria into its frontline outpost against Israel and allow it to transfer advanced weapons from Iran, through Syria, to Lebanon."

Lieberman welcomed Shoygu at an official ceremony at Hakirya, the general command base of the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces in Tel Aviv, on Monday

"I am very happy to see the Russian defense minister in Israel," Lieberman said, adding that it was the Shoygu's first visit since assuming the role in 2012.

"We very much appreciate our relations with Russia, particularly their openness and honesty. We don’t always agree, but we always speak in an honest and open manner," he said.

Shoygu and Lieberman were expected to discuss the closer security coordination between the two countries.

>> Israel’s explosive message to Russia sent in Syria, received in Tel Aviv | Analysis

That coordination was exemplified earlier on Monday, when Israel notified the Russian operations center in Syria that it would attack a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft missile battery operating within an area covered by Russian anti-aircraft batteries and fighter planes. The attack was in response to a missile fired by the Syrian battery on Israel Air Force planes carrying out a reconnaissance run in Lebanese airspace.

Though Shoygu's visit was organized a while ago, some members of the defense establishment consider it significant in light of U.S. President Donald Trump's comments on Russia's Middle East involvement during his Iran nuclear deal decertification speech last week.

In April, Lieberman met with Shoygu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a security conference in Moscow, where he told them that Israel would not allow Iran and Hezbollah to concentrate forces in the Syrian Golan Heights.

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