JERUSALEM, Nov. 10 (UPI) — The Republic of Iran cannot be allowed to have a military say in how things turn out in civil war-torn Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Russian counterpart Thursday.
Russia has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s few staunch allies in recent years, and Israel has long opposed Tehran’s policies — famously warning the U.S. Congress against last year’s landmark nuclear agreement, for example.
“Israel, Russia, the United States and many other countries share the objective of defeating the Islamic State,” Netanyahu told Medvedev. “At the same time, we are also concerned by the second actor promoting radical Islam, Iran, which champions the destruction of Israel and also supports 360-degree terror on five continents.”
Netanyahu is right about Iran’s disdain for Israel. Tehran has never been shy about expressing its hope that the Jewish nation will someday be wiped off the face of the Earth.
Thursday’s meeting was significant in that it represented both sides of the Syrian conflict. Moscow has partnered with Assad’s government to fight opposition rebels, as well as Islamic State fighters. Israel, on the other hand, has stood in lock-step with the United States on the side of the rebels but, like Russia and Syria, also against the militants.
Syria has endured civil war fighting for five years, and peace negotiations have repeatedly failed to resolve the matter. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have been allies through the crisis, but the Israeli leader will soon have to join arms with President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to visit with Netanyahu at the first opportunity next year.
Medvedev struck a highly diplomatic tone in his remarks Thursday, noting a kinship between Russians and Israelis.
“Every time I visit Israel, I feel at home,” he said. “Our countries have common challenges, primarily terrorism. Terror threatens the entire world, but in this region it is felt particularly strongly.”
Netanyahu also noted as priorities the prevention of Iran attaining nuclear weapons, the establishment of Shiite militias and the arming of the Palestinian militant group Hezbollah.