The Israeli prime minister flew to Moscow amid escalating concerns over Iran’s push to have a permanent presence in neighboring Arab countries.
By: Batya Jerenberg
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met President Vladimir Putin in the Russian capital on Monday for two hours of talks, with Iran first and foremost on the agenda.
“This meeting occurred while there is a watershed change in Syria,” he explained. “Will Iran establish itself in Syria or will this process be stopped? If it is not halted on its own then we will act to stop it.”
Netanyahu was directing his cautionary statement to the one person who is perhaps most able to influence Iran on the subject, as their joint interest in propping up the Assad regime in Syria has made allies of Moscow and Tehran. In fact, as a clear symbol of its growing influence in the region, Putin is set to host a two-day Syrian “congress of national dialogue” soon in the southern Russian city of Sochi as the civil war in that country winds down in Assad’s favor thanks to Russian and Iranian-backed forces.
Throughout its military campaign in Syria, however, Russia has maintained good ties with Israel, with the two countries’ air forces establishing close communications to avoid clashes when Israel would bomb weapons convoys to Hezbollah or other targets in Syria.
The other major topic of conversation was Lebanon. Here, the Israeli prime minister presented Putin with information on Iran’s activities that could directly endanger the Jewish state.
“[T]he threat of precision weapons against Israel is a serious threat that we are not willing to accept and if we have to act, we will act,” Netanyahu said, without going into detail.
Netanyahu was referring to Iran’s military buildup in Lebanon, part of which consists of the Tehran regime’s plans to build missile factories in the country while consolidating its presence there. Several senior Israeli officials have recently warned Lebanon against this move, with IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, in an article published in Arab media, calling Sunday upon the citizens of Lebanon to prevent an Iranian takeover of their country.
Possibly referring to the recent marking of International Holocaust Day on January 27th, the prime minister stated firmly, “We will stand before them [Iran] with all our might. There will not be another Holocaust.”
According to Netanyahu, the Russians “fully understand our position and the seriousness with which we view such threats.”