Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin where he stated there could never be peace in Syria as long as there was an Iranian presence there.
Speaking before their meeting at the Kremlin, Netanyahu referred to the Jewish holiday of Purim, which begins this weekend, and linked it to the threat of Iran today.
Netanyahu said, “2,500 years ago in ancient Persia, there was an attempt to destroy the Jewish people that did not succeed and we mark this on the holiday of Purim. Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews. They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.”
“Of course,” he continued, “I would like to say as clearly as possible: Israel is a state today. We have an army and we are capable of defending ourselves. But the threat of radical Shiite Islam threatens us no less than it does the region and the peace of the world, and I know that we are partners in the desire to prevent any kind of victory by radical Islam of any sort.”
The prime minister said his frequent meetings with Putin in recent times “reflect genuine friendship and a tightening of relations in economics, technology, tourism and culture, as well as the living bridge of the one million Russian speakers living in Israel.”
“One of the things that we are fighting together is radical Islamic terrorism,” Netanyahu stated. “Of course, in the past year there was significant progress in the fight against the radical Sunni Islamic terrorism led by Daesh [ISIS] and al-Qaida; Russia has made a very important contribution. Naturally, we do not want this terrorism to be replaced by the radical Shiite Islamic terrorism led by Iran.”
After the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following statement:
“I have just concluded an important meeting with President Putin. I made it clear that regarding Syria, while Israel is not opposed that there should be an agreement there, we strongly oppose the possibility that Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria under such an agreement. I think that this was made clear in the best way.
From my experience with President Putin, these matters are important not only in preventing misunderstandings, but in the end they will also find expression on the ground.
The second thing is that we were informed that pursuant to the anticipated conclusion of the historic pension agreement between us, there will also be an agreement on the veterans. An end will be declared to this painful humanitarian problem – so President Putin told me – on May 9.
Third, we discussed a series of bilateral economic – and other – issues.
Fourth, of course I raised the issue, as I do elsewhere in the world, of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin and, of course, the two Israeli civilians being held by Hamas. I asked for the Russian President’s humanitarian assistance and he promised to give it.”