Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had very little to say when he emerged from his three-hour meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday, but he didn’t look happy.
(Video footage in Hebrew, English-language subtitles available)
Netanyahu recapped the reasons for the meeting, saying that most of the discussion dealt with Iran’s attempt to establish a base in Syria in the places where the Islamic State terrorist organization has been defeated and is leaving.
“The victory over ISIS is welcome,” Netanyahu said. “The entry of Iran is not welcome, it endangers us, and in my opinion it endangers the region and the entire world.”
Netanyahu went on to say that he spoke in “clear terms” with Putin about Israel’s positions “on this matter, and the fact that it is unacceptable to us.”
The prime minister did not reveal the response of the Russian head of state. But Netanyahu was not smiling and he didn’t look relaxed.
“I can say about the meetings with President Putin in the past, that every conversation served the security of Israel and the interests of Israel, and I believe the interests of Russia as well,” he said.
“Based on the conversation today, I think I can say the same things about [this conversation] as well.”
It appeared the statement was deliberately vague and it was not clear whether the prime minister meant the conversation served the interests of Russia, or Israel or both. As is generally the case, only time will tell.
Russia was angry with Israel this past weekend and summoned Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren to the Russian Foreign Ministry to provide clarification on why Moscow was excluded from participating in an international forum responsible for preserving the Sobibór Nazi death camp for educational purposes.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement most likely approved by Putin that “Israel’s position, to allow Russia’s exclusion in the project, borders on historic betrayal.”
In July Poland barred Russian experts from working with the International Steering Committee on Sobibór, despite an invitation extended to them by members of the committee who were not Polish. Russia was invited to join when the committee was set up in 2013, according to Sputnik News. Commemoration representatives include members from Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Israel.
“Russia is a key player in memorializing Holocaust victims, and her participation in this project is vital,” Mikhael Mirilashvili said Sunday in a statement. He’s the president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, an affiliate of the World Jewish Congress which represents Jewish communities from Ukraine to New Zealand.