Israel may drop its opposition to stationing Russian troops on the Golan Heights as members of the UN peacekeeping force there – if Moscow halts its shipments of S-300 missiles to Damascus. Such a deal could be in the works, the London-based Arabic-language a-Sharq al-Awsat said Wednesday.
In June, Russia expressed interest in stationing its troops on the Golan, where they would take the place of Austrian troops who had left their posts as fighting between rebels and Syrian Army troops rocked the UN base at Quneitra.
Russia applied to have its troops join the patrol, called UNDOF, but according to UN rules, Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, cannot include its troops in the Golan peacekeeping force, as per the UN-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Syria establishing UNDOF after the Yom Kippur War.
Russia had proposed sending 380 troops to join the peacekeeping force.
It is not clear why Russia is interested in stationing its troops on the Golan, but the a-Sharq al-Awsat report said that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni had met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in recent weeks, with the latter suggesting cancellation of the S-300 deal as a “gesture” to Israel for Jerusalem's agreement to allow Russian troops to take up posts at Quneitra.
The report did not say whether the proposal had been submitted to the UN for approval, or if there had been a final agreement on the matter.