Netanyahu Meets Visiting Russian FM and Chief of Staff, Discuss Syria and Iran

Prime minister praises Trump, Pompeo for 'strong position' on Iran

Netanyahu and Lavrov in an archive photo from 2009.
Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian military chief of staff Gen. Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov who are visiting Israel.

The Russian delegation was vising Israel at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. He said the two leaders recently spoke on the phone.

Netanyahu said prior to the meeting that they will discuss "regional issues, first and foremost the situation in Syria." The prime minister said that he would reiterate in the meeting the position he presented Putin during his last visit in Moscow.

"Israel insists that [1974] Separation of Forces Agreement between it and Syria be honored as it was in the decades before the outbreak of civil war in Syria, and that Israel will continue to act against any attempt by Iran and its proxies to establish a military presence in Syria.

In his remarks Netanyahu also praised "the strong position expressed yesterday by President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo against the aggression of the regime in Iran." The prime minister said that "Over the years, this regime has been spoiled by the major powers and it is good to see that the U.S. is changing this unacceptable equation."

In a tweet early Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rohani not to threaten the United States or face the consequences, hours after Rouhani told Trump that hostile policies toward Tehran could lead to "the mother of all wars." 

In a late night Twitter message directed at Rouhani, Trump warned him to "never, never, ever threaten the United States again" or "suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before." In an all-caps tweet, Trump added: "We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!" 

In a speech late on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Iran's leaders as a "mafia" and promised unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government.