PM Netanyahu meets with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. (Haim Zach/GPO) (Haim Zach/GPO)
PM Netanyahu meets with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

“Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow” its military build-up in Syria, Netanyahu told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday in Jerusalem with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is in the country for a two-day visit to meet with Israeli leaders for discussions on Iran and security coordination in Syria.

Shoigu’s visit to Israel is his first since becoming Russia’s defense minister in 2012.

According to an Israeli statement, the meeting mostly dealt with Iran’s attempt to establish itself militarily in Syria.

Iran currently commands a large force of  up to 25,000 Shi’ite Muslims fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, including 500 Iranian army soldiers, 5,000 Hezbollah terrorists and several thousand guerrillas from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Netanyahu told Shoigu that “Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow this.”

Russia and Iran are considered allies, while Russia is currently the main power broker inside Syria, which has been ravaged by six years of civil war.

The issue of the Iranian nuclear agreement was also discussed. Netanyahu warned that Iran will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons within 8-10 years if the deal is not changed.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called to alter or nix the nuclear accord with Iran, which Israel says does not prevent it from developing nuclear weapon, which it has repeatedly threatened to use against the Jewish state.

Before meeting with Netanyahu, Shoigu visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, and met with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman in Tel Aviv.

During the meeting with Liberman, Shoigu expressed certainty that the talks would help “to better understand each other” and contribute to the strengthening of friendly relations between the Russian and Israeli militaries.

Israel and Russia have collaborated closely on their respective militaries’ operations in Syria.

Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have held six bilateral meetings over the past two years to discuss regional issues and to maintain a protocol that prevents friction between their militaries in Syria.

During a meeting in June with Putin in Sochi on the Black Sea, Netanyahu warned that Iran’s military build-up is a significant danger not only to Israel, but to other countries as well.

“Iran makes huge efforts to cement its presence in Syria. This poses a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the whole world,” Netanyahu told Putin.

Shoigu’s arrival in Israel came just hours after the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched a retaliatory strike against a Syrian army anti-aircraft battery Monday morning.

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the Russian military was notified in real time as the Israeli strike was launched and that the incident will be addressed directly with Shoigu.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
JNS.org contributed to this report.

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