Jerusalem hosted a trilateral summit this morning, between the Israeli, Russian and American national security advisers – in a coordinated initiative promoted by the Jewish State – with the aim of advancing regional security and stability.
At the opening press conference of the summit, which was chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader pointed to Washington’s, Moscow’s and Jerusalem’s ‘common desire’ to advance stability across the Middle East, with a primary focus on war-torn Syria. According to Netanyahu:“Based on our discussions, I believe there is a wider base for cooperation between the three of us than many believe. This summit represents a real opportunity to help advance that stability in our region, and particularly in Syria.”
While stability in Israel‘s northern neighbor would contribute significantly to the security of the Jewish State; Netanyahu underscored that Jerusalem’s main concern remains: ‘the active efforts by the Islamic Republic of Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria – while at the same time, not shying away from its ultimate desire, to annihilation the state of Israel.’
As such, the Prime Minister pointed to hundreds of Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, which according to Netanyahu: will continue to intensify to prevent Tehran’s aspiration of “using (Israel’s) neighboring territory as a platform to attack (it).” He added that: “As both of you know, Israel has acted hundreds of times to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, while it openly and actively works and calls for our destruction. We’ve acted hundreds of times to prevent Iran from delivering increasingly sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah, or to form a second front in the north against us from the Golan Heights. Israel will continue to prevent Iran from using neighboring territory as platforms to attack us, and Israel will respond forcefully to any such attacks.”
Netanyahu also took the opportunity to underline a common objective to ensure that no foreign forces that arrived in Syria after 2011 remain in the post-war country, a move achievable via measure that would alleviate the situation between Jerusalem and Damascus.
In response, the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Mr. Nikolai Patrushev emphasized that while he agrees with Israel’s position “on how Syria needs to look like,” he also underscored Moscow’s demand ‘to guarantee Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.’ In his words: “It was said here today that one of the countries we need to direct more attention to is Syria. I completely share the position of Premier Netanyahu on how Syria needs to look like as a result of our work. He said it needs to be peaceful and safe. But I would like to add that also Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity need to be guaranteed.”
Patrushev also took the opportunity to refer to Moscow’s strategic cooperation with Tehran, which among others, provides both Russia and Iran a “mutual opportunity to influence each other,” as well as “hear each other out.” Nevertheless, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council insisted that Moscow remains committed to Israel’s security. He said: “There were statements said today also about Iran. Russia cooperates with Iran in the fight against terrorism. We have the mutual opportunity to influence each other, we can hear each other out and so on. We understand the concerns Israel has and we want the existing threats to be liquidated, so that the security of Israel would be maintained. This is very important to us. I have already spoken about it – there are two million Russian-speaking citizens here, and we cannot afford to not remember it.”
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, on his part, hailed the trilateral meeting saying “This meeting could not be more timely, we convene at a particularly critical moment in the Middle East – as the radical regime in Iran and its terrorist surrogates engage in yet more rounds of violent provocations abroad, while its economy collapses and corruption at the highest levels run rampant at home. All around the Middle East we see Iran as the source of belligerence and aggression, supporting the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon, aiding the Assad regime in Syria, arming and equipping Shia militia groups in Iraq, weaponizing the Houthis in Yemen, supporting terrorist activities against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and threatening global oil supplies around the region.”
According to the top U.S. security advisor, Tehran’s continued pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons, as well as its aggressive regional behavior – which included multiple attacks that peaked with the downing of the American Unmanned Aerial Reconnaissance Vehicle last week – have brought about a series of newly imposed crippling sanctions. That said, Ambassador Bolton insisted that the United States continues to avert an all-out war with the Islamic Republic by actively seeking a diplomatic solution to the dangerous stand-off. “As I indicated on Sunday Mr. Prime Minister, President Trump yesterday imposed significant new sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and other top leadership individuals and entities. At the same time, the President has held the door open to real negotiations, to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support for international terrorism and its other malign behavior worldwide. All that Iran needs to do is to walk through that open door,” Bolton said.