Israel

Netanyahu in Moscow for Syria Meeting with Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to “discuss events in Syria.” Netanyahu requested the meeting shortly after the United States recognized Israel’s full sovereignty over the Golan Heights through a presidential proclamation at the end of March.

Israel has been calling on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from securing a lasting presence in the country. Israeli officials see Iranian forces and their terror proxy Hezbollah as a direct threat to the Jewish State and have demanded that Iran completely withdraw from the war-torn state.

In May 2018, Israeli airstrikes destroyed a significant portion of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria, following the firing of 20 rockets toward Israel by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-Quds Force troops located on the Golan Heights.

“Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel — very violent attacks,” U.S. President Donald Trump said when he signed the presidential proclamation at the White House alongside Netanyahu on March 25.

The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan came after a concerted effort on the part of Israeli officials and through bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.

Ahead of the meeting in Moscow, Netanyahu said he would discuss with Putin the “special coordination between our militaries.” The Kremlin announced earlier this week that the two leaders would “compare notes” during their third meeting in recent months.

As the Israeli and Russian leaders met, Putin revealed that Russian special forces in Syria had found the remains of a U.S.-born Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel. He and two other soldiers went missing in a 1982 battle with Syrian forces in southern Lebanon.

Netanyahu thanked Putin for his country’s efforts that culminated in the finding of Baumel’s remains.

[Photo: President of the Russian Federation / Wikimedia Commons]