Diplomacy

Former U.S. Ambassador: In Wake of Trump-Putin Summit, Israel Must Protect Its Own Interests

Despite commitments from both United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to look after Israeli security interests in Syria, Israel will have to “ensure its interests are protected,”  Daniel Shapiro, the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in Haaretz.

Shapiro, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel, observed that he defended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outreach to Russia, following the start of Russia’s military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015.

He explained that “Israel had no choice but to develop and sustain a productive dialogue with Russia, to ensure that Russia would not do harm to Israel’s security or curtail its freedom of action, as it surely could if it wanted to,” and that Netanyahu’s cultivation of Putin had to be viewed as “utilitarian,” so that Israel could defend its interests in Syria.

Since little was discussed publicly about Iran’s presence in Syria — a threat that Israel said it cannot tolerate — Shapiro wrote that Israel “must adjust” and look after its own interests.

In a similar vein, Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Wall Street Journal after the summit that Trump’s apparent belief that Putin could or would oversee Iran’s expulsion from Syria is “a delusion.”

Shlomo Bolts, in an op-ed published last week in The Tower, observed that Russia was cooperating with Iranian-backed militias in southern Syria who posed threats to Israel. Bolts called on both Netanyahu and Trump to “hold Putin’s feet to the fire about these Russian actions and broken promises to remove Iranian proxies during their meetings on Syria.”

Josh Block, president and CEO of The Israel Project, wrote in The Algemeiner in June that “getting Iran booted out of Syria is essential for Israel’s security.”

The failure for the U.S. to ensure this outcome, Block warned, “we may have squandered our best chance to avoid another violent conflict in an already war-torn region.”

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