Putin & Israel: Friends or Foes?

For so long, Israel’s Prime Minister has warned Iran about crossing the ‘red line’ – an ultimatum which has characterised most of Netanyahu’s tenure as PM.

His warnings were issued to Iran with a tone of profound confidence and proclaimed at the highest levels of government. His speeches were arresting and the news organisations around the world cashed in on the sensationalism of it all. Many would remember his vivid speech to the world at the United Nations where despite irreconcilable world views, world leaders gather to epitomise unity and peace on earth while on the other hand, Netanyahu presented an explosive chart showing the sketch of a bomb with – you guessed it - a red line.

However, in the last few years, the red-line rhetoric fizzled out when under President Obama, the US put Netanyahu into a headlock and used the other arm to give Iran a load of cash as part of the Iran deal. While to the North, Russia’s grand move into Syria left an irritating little scribble on Netanyahu’s red relationship with Iran.

As times have changed, the reality is a bigger problem looms on the horizon; another hypothetical red line - this time, not Netanhayu's.

Until now, Netanyahu’s military exploits in Southern Syria have been left unchecked by the Russian occupying force - most likely against the will of the regional Russian military commanders.

Netanyahu has bombed Syrian tanks that have strayed towards the Israeli border and even bombed Hezbollah targets close to Damascus while Putin seems to have had comparatively more interest in Sochi’s weather. Only recently, a senior Israeli official has outright threatened to bomb Damascus.

However Netanyahu’s concern for Iranian occupation in Syria reached a tenor pitch when he left Israel and took his red line narrative to Putin who was busy suffering harsh Sochi conditions in his resort. The meeting with Putin started well – at least for Netanyahu, who drizzled at length about his concerns of Iranian occupation in Syria. "Iran continues to threaten Israel's existence, and it funds terror organizations and missile plans," Netanyahu told Putin. "Wherever ISIS disappeared, Iran has taken over. Iran is already on its way to taking control of Iraq, Yemen, and in many ways has already taken over Lebanon."

But when it came time for Putin’s turn to talk it is said that the conversation did not go so well. "Iran is Russia's strategic ally in the Middle East," Putin told Netanyahu.

Witnesses present during part of the nearly two-and-a-half hour meeting say that following the Prime Minister’s entreaties to the Russian leader, Putin sighed, telling Netanyahu his government would be unable to assist; "Unfortunately, we can not help you here".

This is Netanyahu’s fourth trip to Russia in the last 16 months, and his sixth meeting with Putin during this same time frame. Netanyau said that the reason he wanted to hold talks now with the Russian leader was because the situation inside Syria has changed very rapidly over the last few weeks.

Less than a week after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Vladimir Putin, Putin put Netanyau's warning to the test. DEBKAfile reports exclusively from its military and intelligence sources that on Saturday and Sunday Aug.26 - 27, Russian forces installed Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah officers at a joint “administration center” they had set up in the town of Quneitra – 5 Kms from the Israeli border.

Surveillance spotters saw them moving around 2 km from the Golan border, the closest hostile Iranian and Hizballah troops have ever come to Israel’s border with Syria.

The reality is that while Israeli enemies gather on its border with Putin’s explicit support, Netanyahu’s tattered red line could well soon be replaced with Putin’s very literal and meaningful red line: Israel could lose its authority to strike freely in Southern Syria overnight.

What then of Israel’s red line?

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Ezekiel 38 prophecies that Russia and Iran will invade Israel in the latter days around the time of the coming of Jesus Christ. This has been a clear understanding of Christadelphians for 150 years and only now looking to becoming a reality in the years ahead.

 

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