Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who returned early Friday morning from a diplomatic visit to Russia, discussed his meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, which focused on the Israeli campaign to prevent Iran's establishment in Syria.
"There was a great meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu followed by a long and excellent meeting with Putin that was delayed because he came from Dagestan," Netanyahu told Israeli journalists who accompanied him on the visit.
He added that during these two meetings that took place in the city of Sochi and lasted a total of five hours, "we went into the security issue in great detail. Very detailed work. They always asked if our freedom of action would be preserved. And it is indeed preserved and grounded in understanding."
"These meetings are work meetings with maps and with intelligence updates and an exchange of information so that we can continue to operate in the region, in a very crowded area. The goal has been reached," the Prime Minister stressed.
The Prime Minister reiterated that tightening the security coordination with Russia is not obvious. “I remember when we used to meet Russian pilots in the air over the Suez Canal. This is a reversal on a historical scale."
In their meeting, Netanyahu and Putin agreed to finalize a free trade agreement with Euro-Asian countries. "We will conclude the agreement by the end of the year and the signing will be in 2020. This is another section of the global market that is opening up to us. Our export has reached an all-time high, with more and more countries are tightening ties with us."
The Prime Minister rejected the report on the Politico website which said that Israel set up listening devices for cell phones in the White House and adjacent to other sensitive facilities in Washington.
Netanyahu did not rule out the possibility that some party wanted to sabotage his relationship with President Donald Trump and disseminated something that never happened in order to achieve that goal. "That might be an explanation for that lie. A complete lie. We encounter this every few years, they also spread this lie during the Obama administration. It has no basis in reality and in a way it is childish.”
"The ties with Trump are great. We are talking to each other and do not need improper means," Netanyahu said, rejecting the possibility that Israel is spying on US officials. “There is a clear directive and that is out of the question."
Netanyahu noted that the US United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Sigal Mandelker, visited Israel on Thursday and made clear that the US sanctions and maximum pressure on Iran are continuing.
"The policy continues without any change in the clearest possible way," Netanyahu stressed, noting that the US official arrived in Israel "on an official mission."
The promise to apply sovereignty in the Jordan Valley
Netanyahu said that President Putin did not at all condemn his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. “There was no condemnation, I was the one who brought it up. I told him it was impossible to compare: Russia's strategic depth is a thousand times greater than Israel's strategic depth. He smiled. There were no complaints.”
The Knesset elections
The Prime Minister expressed concern over a possible failure by the right in the elections for the 22nd Knesset this Tuesday. “I'm very concerned. If there is no awakening of our public, whose motivation to vote is low, as of this moment it could a repeat of 1992.”
Netanyahu was asked if Israel could embark on a military operation five days before the election, and replied, "It could happen any minute."