December 19, 2018

The Real Test of Trump’s Friendship with Israel

“The lack of U.S. involvement in the Syrian arena and in the recent dust-up between Israel and Russia stands out, given the intimate relationship between Netanyahu and Trump, the great interest America has in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the common front on the Iranian issue. There are only small American forces in Syria now – in the east of the country and on the border between Jordan and Iraq – leaving Israel’s security interests at the mercy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the “landlord” in Syria.

Netanyahu has been cultivating a relationship with Putin over the years, and during the past three years there has been a coordination mechanism between Israel and Russia enabling Israel to carry out hundreds of attacks on Syrian soil. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, relations between the two countries did not merely involve security coordination, but included various other things done for Israel.

But though Netanyahu enjoys bragging about his relationship with the Russian president, it is clear from this incident that the rapport has its limits. The speed at which Russia began to issue threats (including the announcement that it was transferring advanced S-300 missile systems to the Assad regime) on the one hand, and the submissive Israeli behavior on the other – culminating in the flight of Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin to meet his Russian counterpart and make a personal presentation of the findings of the IDF investigation – indicate this is not a relationship based on trust and is potentially dangerous.”

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