Netanyahu meeting with Putin to center on Iran’s presence in Syria

PM to travel to Moscow on Thursday to meet with Putin; Meeting to center on Iran’s withdrawal of military presence and endings its efforts in Golan Heights

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Prime Minister Netanyahu will travel to Moscow on Thursday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin where he will address Iran’s presence in Syria.

Speaking during his weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu laid out his reasons for traveling to Moscow, stating that he will attempt to formulate an agreement to thwart Iran’s “gradual attempt to open a front against us [Israel] in the Golan Heights.”

His efforts will be aimed at demanding Iran withdraw its military presence and efforts in Syria as any part of future agreements made in ending Syria’s civil war. He stated there would be an “effort to formulate an agreement,” specifying that “in the context of this agreement, or without it, Iran is attempting to base itself permanently in Syria – either through a military presence on the ground or a naval presence – and also through a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights.”

Netanyahu stated “I will express to President Putin Israel’s vigorous opposition to this possibility,” adding that that he hopes “we’ll be able to reach certain understandings to lessen the possible friction between our forces and their forces, as we’ve successfully done so far,” referring to military coordination between the Russian military and IDF in the region.

In December of 2015, Russia and Israel agreed to military coordination in the region, mainly in Syria. Upon announcing the military coordination, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that “There is ongoing and continuous military coordination between us [Israel and Russia]” and that “We [Israel] do not accept or owe Russia limitations on our freedom to act.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu last traveled to Russia in June of 2016, where he met with Putin and Jewish communities. During his visit, he was clear that military coordination with Russia on Syria was necessary to protect the Jewish State, stating at the time “We’re making sure that Syria doesn’t become a launch pad for attacks against Israel. Not by the Assad regime, not by Hezbollah, and not by Islamist groups. We have enough enemies. My policy is to take every step necessary to prevent attacks,” adding “We act from time to time as is needed,” referring to Israeli covert operations to thwart weapons transfers from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.