In meeting with Russian FM, Netanyahu rejects Iranian entrenchment anywhere in Syria

Lavrov met in Jerusalem with Netanyahu, offering a buffer zone in Syria to keep Iran at bay that the Israeli prime minister reportedly rejected.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier on Monday at a Cabinet meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a few days ago requested the meeting with the high level delegation that includes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s chief of the military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

At the meeting Netanyahu and the Russian team discussed regional developments with “the situation in Syria being first and foremost” on the agenda.

Following the meeting, a senior Israeli official said that Israel had rejected a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces in Syria 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Israel’s northern border, reported Times of Israel.

According that that official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Israel remained resolute in its demand that Iran be denied any significant military presence in Syria, with the removal of all long-range missiles and facilities producing precision-guided missiles established as non-negotiable demands of the Jewish state.

In addition, Israel also demanded a guarantee that all air-defense systems protecting Iranian military assets be removed from Syria, and that the flow of Iranian weapons in the region be staunched by closing Syria-Lebanon and Syria-Iraq border crossings.

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According to Times of Israel, the official explained that Israel revealed at the meeting previously undisclosed intelligence to the Russian officials.

Prior to the meeting, Netanyahu  said he would reiterate Israel’s position that it expects Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian-backed allies to honor the 1974 agreement which sets out a demilitarized zone along their shared frontier, and that Israel will continue to act to stop its archenemy Iran, the world’s leading state-sponsor of terror, from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria.

Israel’s main concern is to keep Iran, which is fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as far away from its border as possible — along with its terror proxy, the Lebanese Hezbollah and other militia.

Russia, a key Assad ally, has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

Monday’s meeting comes about two weeks after Netanyahu and Putin discussed Syria and Iran in Moscow.

Hours before the meeting Israel activated a missile defense system against rockets from the fighting in Syria it believed were heading its way.

The incident came after Israel earlier this month, twice in the same week, fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country’s border from Syria.

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In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.