Israeli defense delegation travels to Russia to stop Iran threat in Syria

An Israeli defense delegation is hoping to promote the country’s defense needs vis-a-vis Russia’s influence on Iran’s presence in Syria.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

A delegation of members of Israel’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee took off for Russia on Sunday for an official four-day visit, which will focus on the new threat emanating from Iran’s military presence in Syria.

The delegation, headed by Committee Chairman Member of Knesset (MK) Avi Dichter, the former head of Israel’s internal security service, will be hosted by the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Committee on Defense and Security. The Federation Council is the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia.

The delegation is also expected to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and North Africa Mikhail Bogdanov, as well as with Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the State Duma – the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia and other Russian defense officials.

The Knesset delegation is relatively large due to the significance of the meetings with the Russian decision-makers at this time, a statement by the Knesset said.

The meetings will focus on the reality that is being created in Syria, Iran’s influence in the country and in the Mideast in general, and how this reality threatens Israel, the Knesset stated.

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In addition, the Israeli lawmakers will work to further strengthen the military coordination mechanisms in order to prevent misunderstandings between the IDF and Russian forces operating in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the latest developments in Syria.

According to the Kremlin, Putin and Netanyahu discussed specifics related to a de-escalation zone in Syria’s south, near the border with Jordan, which Israel says endangers its security.

Netanyahu and Putin have met on several occasions over the past year, most recently in Sochi on the Black Sea in August. The two leaders speak by phone on a frequent basis.

Israel has long warned about the involvement of its archenemy Iran, and its terror proxy Hezbollah, in Syria.

Russia is an active player in shaping Syria’s future, as well as an ally of Tehran, and Israel hopes to stem the Iranian threat growing on its border through diplomatic ties with Moscow.