Netanyahu Is Trying to Dictate Terms to Putin and Trump Concerning the Syrian Settlement

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On June 16th the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he opposes the ceasefire agreement in the south of Syria reached by the United States and Russia, because it cements the presence of Iran in the neighboring country. The statement was made at a press conference after a meeting with the President of France Emmanuel Macron.

As was specified, Tel Aviv is dissatisfied this with the agreement as it doesn’t prevent the cementing in Syria of Iranian forces and its satellites and it, thus, will perpetuate the Iranian presence in this country.

In addition, an anonymous high-ranking Israeli official explained that Israel knows about the intentions of Iran to significantly expand its presence in Syria. According to him, Tehran not only is interested in sending advisers to Syria, but also in increasing its contingent of armed forces, including the creation of an air base for Iranian jets, and also a naval base. “This already changes the picture in the region in comparison to what it was before,” said the official.

As a reminder, this arrangement came into force a week ago and stopped the military operations in the southern Syrian provinces adjoining to Israel and Jordan. The agreement on a truce in the Syrian region Daraa and Quneitra was approved by the Presidents of Russia and the US on July 7th at bilateral negotiations in Hamburg at the G20 summit. Israel and Jordan also took part in negotiations.

The agreement provided the creation of zones of de-escalation, or safety zones along the borders of Syria with Jordan and Israel. For the last month Israel held negotiations on this issue with high-ranking American officials, where a list of their demands were submitted — in particular: the Iranians, fighters of “Hezbollah”, and other Shiite militia groups shouldn’t be near the border zone. Also Israel declared to the US that it objects to the providing of a ceasefire regime with Russian troops in safety zones near the border.

On July 9th Netanyahu stated that also the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told him that they understand the position of Israel and take into account its demands. However, as the high-ranking Israeli official reported to the publication, when the text of the deal was received, it was found out that contrary to expectations, the US and Russia almost completely ignored the position of Israel.

“The agreement in the form in that it is now is very bad,” said one of the high-ranking Israeli officials. “It doesn’t consider almost any of the interests of Israeli security, and it creates a disturbing reality in the south of Syria. The agreement doesn’t contain any obvious word about Iran, “Hezbollah”, or Shiite formations in Syria,” he explained.

Comment of Israel Shamir:

Israel most of all would like the war in Syria to continue eternally. It is desirable – to the last Syrian. In principle, this is the main dream of Israel: that neighbors of Israel fight among themselves so that they have a civil war and so that there are clashes. I.e., to put it briefly, so that everyone is in blood — and only Israel is all in white. Iran promotes stability in the region and this, of course, isn’t pleasant for Israel. While in reality there is no basis to claim that Iran directly threatens Israel. Israel also doesn’t Russians to be present on its borders. Tel Aviv wants only American troops there. That’s why the agreement between the US and Russia on Syria doesn’t suit the Israelis. Recently Netanyahu called Trump and Putin. He told both the same thing: “It is necessary that America and Russia take into account Israeli wishes; neither Iran, Hezbollah, nor Russian troops should be present in the vicinities of the Golan heights occupied by Israel”. Israel’s demands weren’t considered. Russia and America came to an agreement directly, without obeying the command from Tel Aviv. Netanyahu, of course, was very afflicted. It is as if he thought that he has two trained lions who jump through a hoop at the command of Israel. It turns out that they jump by themselves — and not there, where Netanyahu will determine for them. The Prime Minister of Israel even shouted directly: allegedly, “we won’t allow it, we won’t forgive, we won’t permit it”.

He said all of this in Paris during the meeting with Macron. And it is necessary to say that Macron received him kingly. They spent a long time together, and Macron agreed to any of the usual demands of Netanyahu. In particular, the President of France said that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism (it is what Netanyahu always wants to hear). Macron also tried to ventilate him – what will happen in Lebanon, where France has some positions and interests.

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So, by and large, Israel is against the agreement between America and Russia, and will try to torpedo it. I would say that the greatest danger is that he will try to torpedo them by bombardment. I.e. I wouldn’t exclude the possibility that American and/or Israeli aircraft will bomb Russian or Syrian military units.

Let’s remember the agreement between Lavrov and Kerry on Syria. It held for exactly five days. Because after five days the American aircraft bombed the Syrians. After this Kerry admitted that the Pentagon simply didn’t obey the team of the State Department.

It is interesting that literally nearly in the same hours Macron stated that he deeply supports the Russian-American agreements on de-escalation in the southwest of Syria, and in every possible way will promote supporting them. And just after he says to the Prime Minister of Israel the contrary. It turns out that Macron in general has no position, he is like a weather vane? Concerning Israel, all try to say what Israel wants to hear. Of course, the situation is not like that, so that everyone wants to implement pro-Israeli statements. There is some gap between what is said and what is done. Such a thing is quite natural. Also, of course, Israel also has its gap. On the one hand, Netanyahu is the best, warmest friend of Russia and Putin personally. Nevertheless, we see that when some problem or a contradiction appears, Israel behaves as it wants, and not as “friends” ask of it. I.e. politics is, after all, not a relationship between people, but a relationship between some other beings on other, inhuman scale.

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In general it is clear: Netanyahu wants everything around to burn, all potential enemies to fight around Israel. And to be more precise: what eventually Israel wants to see in Syria — a picture landscape after Armageddon? This is, of course, optimum: burned desert and nobody there. But, probably, after all they don’t realistically think that it will happen. They must reconcile with certain things that are more possible. For example, Syria is fragmented, divided into 5-6 zones of influence, between which barriers are erected. Against this background the Golan heights annexed by Israel already don’t seem something strange. If Turkey will confiscate a piece of Syria, Iran will take another piece, someone else will take a province, so this, in the arguments of Israel, is the most real project for Syria. Israel was from the very beginning not against Bashar al-Assad remaining in power while France and America said: “Assad must go”. Israel didn’t share this position, that’s why it seemed to many in Russia that Israel is really an ally. But the position of Israel was absolutely different: “Let there be Assad, but he won’t be the governor of all of Syria — let him govern a piece of Syria”.

And what does Israel want concerning Iran? After all, Israel must understand that many-thousands-year Iran nevertheless is not for its teeth. Destruction, partition of Iran is unlikely to be possible in some historical prospect. So then, what desires are here? After the recent visit of Trump to Israel, Netanyahu sharply increased the aggressive degree of speeches about Iran. If earlier it was: “When they will come to us, we will respond to them”, then now he says: “those one want to threaten us, let them know that they risks their own annihilation”. I.e. so then we will exterminate Iran — not crush, but exterminate. This is a new thing. Before it wasn’t like this. A sharp raising of conflicts. A sharp increase of the level of threat. Judging by that we see, there is a feeling that Israel wants to exterminate Iran. Thus, the current President of Iran made many attempts to increase the absence of conflict relations, to come to some smoothing of the situation. But Israel somehow really doesn’t want it. I think in many respects it is connected with such things as the Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa mosque located on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem. Israel wants to capture the Al-Aqsa mosque and liquidate it as an Islamic cult center. For this it needs to neutralize large Muslim countries, from which only Iran can really counteract Israel.

This is about what Israel wants, and now about what it is “able to do”. There is such an opinion that the Israeli lobby absolute completely, practically 100% controls both Washington and Moscow. However there is no complete control. There isn’t, in particular, because the Israeli lobby consists of two antagonistic parts, one of which is Zionist Jews, and the other is liberal Jews. They fight among themselves. We see this now in the US especially boldly, where now the real fight is ongoing between the former and the latter. We hear about it in Israel too. For example, Netanyahu sharply opposed George Soros. Soros is perceived by us as the embodiment of the Israeli lobby — a patented Jew! But Israel, nevertheless, opposes him. In general, if all Jewishness was monolithic, so probably it couldn’t have such influence as it has. In Moscow there simply is no Israeli lobby. Most pro-Israeli orientated Jews of Russia left for Israel. There they derived very doubtful pleasure. Let’s say it directly, there they had a big bummer. Some came back, some remained in the “promised land”, but neither those who left, nor those who remained didn’t become some active lobbyists. That’s why what sometimes is represented in Russia as the Israeli lobby is a little bit another thing. The main editors of newspapers consider that Putin wants to be on friendly terms with Israel, and that’s why they harmonize with Israel and Jews, trying to avoid any conflict. The editors think that it is what the Kremlin wants. And the habitual policy of the Russian editors, as a rule, is to foresee the desires of the Kremlin. There are, of course, also principal publications, like the Zavtra newspaper, but nevertheless they are few and far between…

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And the last thing. There are also return influences — both from Washington and Moscow; there is nothing in the nature that acts only in one direction. That’s why – what will Trump’s administration undertake? Will it simply say to Netanyahu “yes Sir” and will salute? Or, in turn, he will undertake his lobbyist actions in the intra-Israeli politicum?

Under Trump there is no feeling that the US will obediently salute and do everything that Israel wants. When, for example, Trump came to Israel, Netanyahu very much wanted to go with him to the Wailing Wall, and Trump refused because, according to him, the Wailing Wall is in the occupied Palestinian territory. So Trump has his own view, and there are his Jewish friends. These are the same Jewish friends that Putin has — namely Chabad. And Hasidim have very weak positions in Israel. They have some verbal extremism that is limited to saying that there aren’t their own real forces “on the land”.

There are many options for the future, and I don’t exclude that Trump will want to keep the agreement on Syria reached with Russia. But then a question arises: if Trump will want it, would the Pentagon agree with him? This isn’t obvious. After all, now in America, unlike Russia, there is no sole system of power. There are parallel teams. There are parallel leaders. America now doesn’t speak and act with one voice. Trump’s possibility to restrain the Pentagon from aggressive steps is very limited.

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