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Netanyahu meets Putin on snap visit to Russia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on snap visit to Russia, January 29, 2018
GPO
"We will stand before them (Iran) with all our might," Netanyahu said. "There will not be another Holocaust."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, on a snap five-hour visit where the main topic of discussion was Iran's growing influence in Lebanon and Syria.

Speaking to reporters as he departed Tel Aviv for Moscow, Netanyahu said he would discuss with Putin "the constant attempts by Iran to establish military bases in Syria, something we strongly oppose and are also working against."

"In addition, we will also discuss Iran's attempt to turn Lebanon into one large missile site, a site for manufacturing precision missiles against the State of Israel, which we are not prepared to tolerate," he added.

Netanyahu, who will be joined by his national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat, said that periodic meetings with Putin have proven successful in coordinating between the IDF and the Russian military forces in Syria.

Israel is reportedly seeking freedom of action as it attempts to thwart the transfer of weapons to Lebanon-based Hezbollah through Syrian territory.

After viewing an exhibition in Moscow dedicated to the 1943 uprising at the Sobibor Nazi death camp, Netanyahu said that Israel is "still ready to prevent any attempts of this type of ideology, in the first place Iran, which speaks of the intention to destroy us".

"We will stand before them (Iran) with all our might," Netanyahu said. "There will not be another Holocaust."

Netanyahu and Putin also took part in a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the Museum of Judaism and Tolerance in Moscow and attended an exhibition marking 75 years since the 1943 uprising at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Kobi Gideon, GPO

Netanyahu said that Israel is "still ready to prevent any attempts of this type of ideology, in the first place Iran, which speaks of the intention to destroy us," AFP reported.

"We will stand before them (Iran) with all our might," Netanyahu said. "There will not be another Holocaust."

Netanyahu's visit comes a day after Israel Defense Force (IDF) spokesperson Ronen Manelis accused Iran of building precision weapons factories in Lebanon.

"Through the actions and inaction of the Lebanese authorities, Lebanon is turning into one big missile factory while much of the international community looks the other way," Manelis said in a rare Arabic-language statement on Sunday.

Iran, Israel’s arch-foe, is allied with Russia in backing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's forces in the country's six year civil war.

"They are building terrorist infrastructure and plants to make arms under the nose of the Lebanese government," wrote Manelis of Iran and Hezbollah.

"The future of the people of Lebanon is to be a tool in the hands of the dictator from Tehran," he added, calling on Lebanese citizens to take action against Iran and its local proxies.

Israel has recently targeted Iranian facilities in Syria, and now fears that Iran is trying to boost its presence in Lebanon where it is protected by the allied militia Hezbollah.

“Look, when I saw that Russia’s placing military forces, air power, some ground power, and anti-aircraft weapons in Syria, I decided that the wisest thing to do was to go and speak to Mr. Putin directly,” Netanyahu said earlier this month.

Kobi Gideon, GPO

“And I said, look, you have your interests in Syria, and we have our interest, which is not to be attacked by Iran and its proxies from the soil of Syria either directly or through the provision of offensive weapons, very deadly weapons that are filtered through Syria into Lebanon to a warfront that Iran is building in Lebanon,” he added.

Israel and Russia have developed a mechanism whereby both sides are aware of the other's movements in Syria, a mechanism of so-called "deconfliction" designed to avoid accidents between the two parts.

“The most important thing I think is to make sure that we understand each other and that we don’t shoot down each other’s planes. And we decided to do what is called in this awful jargon deconfliction, which means not shooting each other. And we established a mechanism to do that, and that mechanism holds secure.”

Netanyahu and Putin last met in the Black Sea town of Sochi, on the Black Sea, last summer. Following their talks, Netanyahu posted a video describing them as productive for Israeli security.

“Most of the discussion dealt with Iran’s attempt to establish a foothold in Syria in the places where ISIS was defeated and is leaving. The victory over ISIS is welcome. Iran’s entry is unwelcome, endangering us, and in my opinion, endangering the region and the world,” Netanyahu said in the video.

“I spoke to President Putin very clearly about our positions on this matter and the fact that this is unacceptable to us. I can say about previous meetings with President Putin that any such conversation served the security of Israel and Israeli interests and I believe Russia’s interests as well.”

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