Channel 2 News reports that dramatic understandings were reached between Israel and Russia in which the Assad army would return to southern Syria on its border with Israel, Russia will undertake that there will be no Iranian or Hizbullah presence in this area, and Israel will maintain freedom of action against Iranian consolidation in Syria.
Political analyst Dana Weiss last night reported on recent contacts between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, after Israeli and Russian security coordination reached a peak last Friday when the Russian Defense Minister called Defense Minister Liberman and invited him to Moscow next week.
Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov seemed to begin the process of pushing Iran and Hezbollah back, saying only the Syrian army should be present on Syria’s border with Israel, according to a Times of Israel report.
His statement suggested Russia was ready to allow Iran to maintain a foothold in other parts of the country. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after Lavrov spoke that Israel objects to Iran’s presence in any part of Syria.
His office told Hadashot news, “Israel is not interested in partial agreements, but the removal of the Iranian army from all of Syria.”
Senior political figures say in this framework understandings were reached according to the following outline:
1) The Assad army is returning to control southern Syria on the border with Israel;
2) Russia shall undertake there will be no Iranian or Hezbollah presence in this area;
3) For its part, Israel will accept Assad’s return to southern Syria provided the Russians enforce their commitment to distance Iran and Hezbollah from the Israeli border;
4) In addition, Russia will publicly call on all foreign elements to leave all of Syria, referring to Iran, Hezbollah, but also the United States and Turkey. This is significant because Israel believes the Iranians will not give up Syria so easily;
5) Israel will maintain freedom of action against Iranian consolidation in all of Syria.
The test, of course, will be on the ground, but it seems that both the United States and Russia are now openly standing with Israel and accepting its policies, and this is seen as a significant achievement.
Seven years after the start of the civil war in Syria and after former defense ministers predicted Assad would not survive, the Butcher from Damascus is getting Syria back almost in full – with Israel giving the process legitimacy. In this context, a very senior political source says: “Assad was and remains a monster who massacred his people, but this is a matter for the international community and the Arab countries – we can’t fix the world; Israel needs to take care of its own security.” (INN & TOI)