Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top security adviser on Monday that Israel will do “anything it takes” to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons.
“I’m certain that Russia understands what it means for us when a regime calls for our annihilation, and acts on a daily basis to achieve that aim,” Netanyahu said in a meeting at his Jerusalem office with Russia’s National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
“Israel won’t allow an Iran that calls for our annihilation to entrench itself on our border, and we will do anything it takes to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons,” the prime minister said.
The meeting comes ahead of a first-ever trilateral summit Tuesday between the Russian, Israeli and American national security advisers — Patrushev, Meir Ben-Shabbat and John Bolton, respectively.
“The security cooperation between Russia and Israel has already contributed a great deal to the security and stability of our region, and has profoundly changed the regional situation,” Netanyahu said.
In a statement to reporters, Patrushev said Monday that the following day’s summit would focus on “the regional situation, especially Syria,” and place special emphasis on Israel’s security concerns.
“We pay special attention to ensuring Israel’s security,” he said, calling it “a special interest of ours because here in Israel live a little less than about two million of our countrymen. Israel supports us in several channels, including at the UN. The prime minister [Netanyahu] has already said that we share the same views on the issue of the struggle against falsifying the history of World War II.”
Among the issues that will be discussed with Bolton, Patrushev added, were “several ideas about how to reach peace in your region. And once we reach agreement, we should add other states in the region to this format.”
Earlier Monday, during a meeting of the cabinet, Netanyahu called the upcoming trilateral gathering “an unprecedented summit between two great powers, the United States and Russia, and Israel — here in Israel.
“The very fact that this summit is happening here is more evidence of the special standing of Israel among the nations of the world at this time,” he said.
Iran’s efforts to entrench itself militarily in Syria and the escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington are expected to top the agenda.
Patrushev has tried to navigate the regional struggle between Israel and Iran without upending Russia’s relationship with either.
Last week, he said Moscow would back Iran’s interests at the trilateral meeting.
“Iran is in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government and is actively involved in fighting terrorism. Therefore, of course, we will have to take into account the interests of Iran,” Patrushev said.
Earlier this month, a senior US official said Washington would use the meeting to tell Moscow that Iran should withdraw from Syria, and ask for Russia’s suggestions on how to counter Tehran’s influence in the region. The unnamed official said that the US supported Israel’s actions against Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
“We would hope to make the point in conjunction with the Israelis that we don’t see any positive role for the Iranians — and that would extend beyond Syria, to Lebanon, to Iraq, to Yemen — other places where they’re active,” the official said, according to a Reuters report.
He added that Washington was sure that the summit, with Israel hosting both Russia and the US in Jerusalem, would irk Iranian leadership, and said that the fact that Russia was participating was a positive sign.
“The fact that the Russians see value in these conversations, that they’re willing to do it publicly, I think is in and of itself quite significant,” the official said.
According to a report by the Kan public broadcaster, Israel and the US will offer Russia incentives for an effort to curb Iranian influence in Syria, which could include legitimizing the continued leadership of Syrian President Bashar Assad. It was unclear what Washington and Jerusalem would offer Moscow in return.
Moscow is a close ally of Tehran and Damascus, while Jerusalem and Washington are seen by the Iranian regime as archenemies.