Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that he opposes the ceasefire deal in southern Syria brokered by the United States and Russia.
The reason is that the agreement does not serve so-called Israeli interests. According to Netanyahu, the agreement perpetuates Iranian plans to set up a long-term presence on Israel’s northern border.
At the same time, the Israeli media launched a large-scale campaign against the ceasefire in southern Syria.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz (SOURCE):
The U.S.-Russian deal included establishing de-escalation zones, otherwise known as safe zones, along Syria’s borders with both Jordan and Israel. Over the past month, Israel had held talks on this agreement with senior American officials, including Brett McGurk, America’s special envoy for the battle against ISIS, and Michael Ratney, the special envoy for Syria, both of whom visited Israel several times.
During these talks, Israel presented a list of demands and voiced several reservations about the emerging agreement. Inter alia, Israel said that the de-escalation zones must keep Iran, Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias away from the Israeli and Jordanian borders and must not enable Iran to consolidate its presence in Syria. Israel also told the Americans it objected to having Russian troops policing the cease-fire in the safe zones near its border.
In the days before the United States and Russia announced the cease-fire deal for southern Syria, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with both Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin to reiterate Israel’s positions on the agreement. At the start of the cabinet meeting on July 9, Netanyahu said that both Putin and Tillerson had told him they understand Israel’s position and will take its requirements into account.
But senior Israeli officials told Haaretz that when Jerusalem obtained the text of the deal, it discovered that in defiance of its expectations, the Americans and Russians had ignored Israel’s positions almost completely.
“The agreement as it is now is very bad” one senior Israeli official said. “It doesn’t take almost any of Israel’s security interests and it creates a disturbing reality in southern Syria. The agreement doesn’t include a single explicit word about Iran, Hezbollah or the Shi’ite militias in Syria.”