Mideast Daily News

Report of Netanyahu/Putin Deal on Syria/Iran Denied in Jerusalem

By Michael Friedson | The Media Line

July 12, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a joint press conference at the Israeli leader's Jerusalem residence on June 25, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel.(Photo by Amos Ben Gershom / GPO via Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman has denied a report that the Israeli leader offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a deal whereby Jerusalem would lay off Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad – he reportedly told the Russian leader that “we have no problem with Assad” – in return for Putin “suggesting” to the Iranians that they no longer need to be in Syria. Despite the denial, many observers believe the story since it is consistent with a series of rumors and speculation that includes one suggestion that Netanyahu was prepared to go even farther and try to get US President Donald Trump to lift American sanctions on Russia in return for Putin effecting a withdrawal of the Iranian presence from Israel’s doorstep. That tactic drew an unambiguous warning to Prime Minister Netanyahu from Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the staunchest supporters of Israel in the US Congress. The Senator tweeted the PM “to be very careful making agreements with Russia re Syria that affect U.S. interests.” As the civil war in Syria winds down, the Israelis fear the Syrian side of the Golan Heights could become home for its friends and allies, the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorists and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, both dedicated to Israel’s destruction. The most Netanyahu has been able to get out of Netanyahu is a suggestion that Russia try to keep the enemy forces some 50-miles away – a suggestion already rejected by the prime minister. “Quiet” with both groups is tenuous and virtually all observers see the Golan Heights as a tinderbox ready for combustion with minimum effort. As if to illustrate the point, in the past 24 hours the Syrians launched a drone that entered Israeli air space and in return, the Israeli air force bombed three targets inside of Syria.

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