Netanyahu-Putin meeting to tackle Syria cease-fire deal

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meeting for the sixth time in two years, are expected to discuss the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria and Israeli fears over the deal.

Netanyahu and Putin are scheduled to meet Wednesday in the Russian city of Sochi, located on the Black Sea, the Prime Minister’s Office announced in a statement Saturday night. 

The two leaders will discuss the “latest developments in the region,” the statement said.

Israel believes that the cease-fire pact will give Iranian Shiite proxies a permanent presence in Syria on the border with Israel.

The focus of their previous meetings has been on Russia’s involvement in the protracted civil war in Syria.

“In the past two years Prime Minister Netanyahu has met with Russian President Putin every few months in order to discuss bilateral and regional issues and in order to prevent friction between the Israeli and Russian air forces in Syria, so far successfully,” the statement said.

An Israeli delegation led by Mossad director Yossi Cohen discussed the issue in Washington last week with American diplomats led by U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, Ynet reported. The Israelis expressed concern that Iran has plans to establish land, air and naval bases in Syria, and called this a “red line” for Israel.

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