Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Chief of Military Intelligence of the IDF are in Moscow today for meetings with Russian president Putin regarding the continued Iranian encroachment in Syria. The Iranian military presence in Syria is an existential threat to Israel, but it is a price the Russians have agreed to pay in order to maintain the Iranian puppet regime of Bashar Al-Assad, a regime that allows them to keep large naval and air bases on Syrian territory in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia and Israel, who have lately enjoyed a blossoming relationship outside of the Iranian are trying to navigate around this thorny issue by establishing a series of red lines that the Iranians are not supposed to cross, particularly around the proximity of Iranian installations to the Syrian – Israeli border and the type of munitions that Iran is allowed to keep in Syria.
Unfortunately, these understandings are in direct conflict with the state Iranian interest of opening a third front against Israel from Syria in addition to their existing proxies in Gaza and Southern Lebanon. Knowing that the Russian interest in keeping their own installation in Syria trumps their desire to do right by Israel, Iran has been routinely flouting the Russian – Israeli understanding, though it has tried to do so covertly so as not to cause Russia and Putin an unnecessary loss of face. These efforts at secrecy are rarely successful as Israel’s excellent intelligence capabilities uncover concrete proof of the violations sooner rather than later., It is this proof that Netanyahu and his intelligence chief are doubtlessly presenting to the Kremlin.
Having planned to stay in Moscow another night, the beleaguered Netanyahu is coming home on Thursday, a day on which he is likely to be indicted, conditional on a hearing, by AG Mandelblit. In addition to having to deal with the fallout from the indictment, Netanyahu is facing a storm of negative media that is an entirely self-inflicted wound. Apparently, somebody in the Likud’s campaign office has decided that it would be a good idea to put out a video clip in which the dangers of the left ruling Israel once again were expounded against a visual of an Israeli military cemetery. The indescribable grief that so many Israeli families who have lost loved ones in Israel’s ongoing war for independence and survival are feeling every day should, of course, remain outside of politics. Netanyahu ordered the clip removed and those responsible for its release fired from the campaign, but nothing can be deleted from the Internet and the damage was already done. All that is left now is to wait for the inevitable Israeli strikes on Iranian interests in Syria and the equally inevitable polls of the Israeli electorate.