Netanyahu departs for US ahead of meeting with Trump

As Prime Minister leaves for New York, Netanyahu vows Israel will continue to take action against Iranian forces in Syria.

David Rosenberg ,

נתניהו ורעייתו ממריאים
נתניהו ורעייתו ממריאים
צילום: אבי אוחיון, לע''מ

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu left for New York Tuesday afternoon, ahead of a planned meeting with President Donald Trump and scheduled address at the opening of the 2018-2019 United Nations General Assembly session.

The Prime Minister and his wife, Sara, left following a special cabinet meeting convened in the Prime Minister’s Office Tuesday morning, called following Russia’s announcement Monday to transfer advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile systems in Syria.

On the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport, Netanyahu said Israel would continue to take action to prevent Iran from using Syria as a base of operations against Israel, and would also use force to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to regional foes including the Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon.

“For the past three years, Israel has been very successful in preventing the Iranian military from establishing itself in Syria, and in preventing the transfers of deadly weapons to Iran and Hezbollah. That doesn’t mean there weren’t exceptions, but overall we have been very successful. We did this with full coordination with Russia.

“Since the tragic downing of the Russian plane, I spoke twice with President Putin, and expressed my deep sorrow and sadness over the loss of life.

“This morning I convened the security cabinet, which was given a full update on the most recent events. The cabinet members also joined with the Russian people in mourning [the loss of life].”

The Russian Ilyushin IL-20 reconnaissance plane was shot down by Syrian surface-to-air missiles last week, following an Israeli airstrike in northern Syria.

While Russian officials said Israel was responsible for the loss, claiming Israeli planes used the larger IL-20 to shield their radar cross-sections, Israel denied the claim, saying IDF warplanes had already left the battle zone by the time the missile which downed the IL-20 was fired.

Vladimir Putin told Netanyahu that he rejected Israel’s version of the incident, saying it was inconsistent with the Russian Defense Ministry’s own investigation. Russia subsequently announced it would deploy S-300 missile systems in Syria – a move which could hamper future Israeli operations against Iranian or Assad forces in Syrian territory.

“We fully back the IDF,” Netanyahu said Tuesday. “We will continue to take action to prevent the Iranian military from establishing itself in Syria, and we will continue the security coordination between the IDF and Russia.”