Russian FM On Urgent Visit To Israel/وفد عسكري برئاسة وزير الخارجية الروسي في إسرائيل/Israel rejects Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km from Golan إسرائيل ترفض عرضاً روسياً يضمن بقاء القوات الإيرانية بعيدة عن الجولان 100 كلم
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov were sent urgently to Israel on Monday, July 23 over the Putin-Netanyahu rift that was exclusively disclosed by DEBKAfile. وفد عسكري برئاسة وزير الخارجية الروسي في إسرائيل
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the mission to the cabinet in words that were revealing: He said Israel will not accept the Syrian army’s entry to the buffer zone set up by the 1974 Syrian-Israeli separation of forces accord, thereby indicating that he did not trust in Syrian compliance with this accord, despite the guarantee offered by President Vladimir Putin in their phone conversation on Friday, July 20. DEBKAfile’s sources note that Putin’s pledge came after he reneged on a series of promises he gave US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu in recent weeks, relating to keeping the Iranians and their proxies away from the Israeli border.
To emphasize that Israel now meant business, the IDF was instructed Monday morning to use the David’s Wand anti-missile weapon for its first combat operation against Syrian missiles fired in a battle with rebels in the buffer zone. Warning alerts were triggered the length and breadth of northern Israel – from the Golan and the Bashan north of the Sea of Galilee area up to Safed and Tiberias. David’s Wand broadcast a signal to all those concerned that Israel had every intention of using its most advanced weaponry in southern Syria if necessary.
Three important points emerged from Monday’s events:
1-The claim that the Syrian army is fighting in the battles for conquering southern Syria is more fiction than fact: Aside from tattered elements of that army, the battles are being fought by Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militias under Iranian command. So the “Syrian army” is a misnomer when referring to intrusions of the buffer zone, or proximity to Israel’s Golan border – currently estimated by military sources at no more than 3-8km. They should correctly be attributed to Iranian plus proxies.
2-Some of these forces enjoy Russian air force support.
3-If Israeli fighter jets are confirmed to have fired missiles from Lebanon Sunday night at a missile depot at Masyaf near Hama, killing Iranian and Hizballah officers, this raises a question: Why would Israel take military action against Iran and Hizballah far from its borders, while thus far holding back from attacking those same forces close to its Golan border? Indeed, Netanyahu threatened as much in his last conversation with Putin in the harshest terms: “Any hill captured by Iran and Hizballah near the Israeli border will become a crater,” he vowed. The Russian president seems to have taken this threat seriously enough to send his top people to Jerusalem to hold Israel back.
Israel rejects Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km from Golan إسرائيل ترفض عرضاً روسياً يضمن بقاء القوات الإيرانية بعيدة عن الجولان 100 كلم
Reuters/ AP/Ynetnews/July 23/18
At Russian President Putin’s request, Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with high-level delegation from Moscow led by Russian FM Lavrov, telling him ‘we will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border.’
Israel rebuffed on Monday a new Russian offer to keep Iranian forces in Syria away from the Golan Heights ceasefire line, an Israeli official said, complicating Moscow’s bid to stabilize the country amid a waning civil war.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the issue came up during a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a visiting Russian delegation led by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Netanyahu said a Russian offer to keep Iranian forces 100 km (62 miles) from the border was not enough, telling Lavrov “we will not allow the Iranians to establish themselves even 100 kilometers from the border.””The Russians are speaking about (the 100-km buffer zone) and are committed to it, but we said there are also long-range weapons beyond this zone, and all those forces must leave Syria,” the official said. Israel had previously turned down a proposal by Russia, the big-power backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, that Iranian forces be kept 80 km from the frontier, according to Israeli officials.The Russian embassy in Israel tweeted that Lavrov and armed forces chief General Valery Gerasimov discussed with Netanyahu Assad’s advance in southwest Syria and “issues related to Israel border security.”Another Israeli official described the meeting, which lasted for over two hours, as “an important meeting at a significant time in which we discussed the details of Iranian presence and activity in Syria, while presenting maps and intelligence materials, as we explained our policy to push Iran out of Syria.”The official said Israel will maintain full freedom of operations for the IDF, and detailed what the removal of Iran from Syria should entail: “First of all, all the long-range weapons must be removed from Syria; precise weapons production must be stopped; other strategic weapons, such as air defense, must be removed as well; the border crossings that allow the smuggling of these weapons must be closed, including on the Syrian-Lebanese border where weapons are smuggled into Lebanon, and the Iraqi-Syrian border through which weapons are smuggled from Iran into Syria itself.”
Netanyahu announced earlier at a Cabinet meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a few days ago requested the meeting with the high level delegation that also includes Russia’s chief of the military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov.Netanyahu said they will discuss regional developments with “the situation in Syria being first and foremost.” He said he will reiterate Israel’s position that it expects Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian-backed allies to honor the 1974 agreement which sets out a demilitarized zone along their shared frontier, and that Israel will continue to act to stop its archenemy Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria.
Israel’s main concern is to keep Iran, which is fighting alongside Assad’s forces, as far away from its border as possible—along with its proxy, the Lebanese Hezbollah and other militia.Russia has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country. However, Moscow has said it wants to see the separation of forces on the frontier preserved. Lavrov’s deputy, Grigory Karasin, told Russian media the foreign minister’s trip was “urgent and important.”Monday’s meeting comes about two weeks after Netanyahu and Putin discussed Syria and Iran in Moscow.Hours before the meeting, Israel activated a missile defense system against rockets from the fighting in Syria it believed were heading its way. The incident came after Israel earlier this month, twice in the same week, fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country’s border from Syria.In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.
*Itamar Eichner and Moran Azulay contributed to this report.