The prime minister has promised to fly wherever he needs to in order to curb the dangers looming over us Israelis. And he kept his promise. Several days ago, Netanyahu flew to meet with Russian President Putin in order to ask him not to supply Bashar Assad with the advanced S-300 antiaircraft missiles.
What's the problem then?
The problem is that Netanyahu failed to control himself, and several days before traveling to Putin's residence at the Sochi resort, he announced that he would demand that his host avoid transferring the advanced weapons to Assad's regime, which may threaten Israel Air Force jets as they arrive to attack convoys of arms being transferred from Syria to Lebanon for Hezbollah.
At the same time, the New York Times quoted an Israeli official as saying that if Assad dare attack Israel, he would risk the downfall of his regime. Just like that.
Vladimir Putin was not happy, to say the least, to hear Netanyahu's public statements even before the two met. Neither was he satisfied with the threats Israel made against Assad, Russia's "client." With all due respect, and we have a lot of respect for the prime minister interested in maintaining our security, he should have saved his requests from the Russian leader for a quiet rather than public dialogue.
The result was soon to come: Immediately after the meeting between Putin and Netanyahu, the Kremlin spokesman rushed to announce that Russia was planning to supply the Syrians with the missiles Israel is so concerned about. After all, a world power as big as Russia cannot appear to be giving in to public Israeli pressure.
A lesson he'll never forgetOne can only imagine what Putin said to Netanyahu: Look, Sir, the Americans announced recently a major deal to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states. You Israelis are also about to receive advanced weapons worth billions of dollars. So we too have customers in the region, and interests I plan to protect.
Putin further said to Netanyahu: If you can find other countries in your region that will pay for the antiaircraft missiles we plan to give to Syria, and we are talking about close to $900 million, we'll be glad to reconsider.
The Americans are trying to banish us from the Middle East and take over the region, Putin likely told his interlocutor. Assad is the least harmful candidate as far as Israel is concerned. Do you Israelis prefer to see Syria fall in the hands of Islamic terror groups?
Netanyahu, who was forced to fly to the Black Sea resort of Sochi without the "flying bed," must have learned a lesson he'll never forget about "his place in power." In other words, he learned that in a reality in which Syria has become the fighting arena between the United States and Russia, we had better take cover until we know who won the battle over our northern neighbor's character.
And we should take this opportunity to remember that during the War of Attrition after the Six-Day War victory, our Air Force pilots found themselves fighting against a defense disposition and Russian aircraft advanced to the Suez Canal line.
We have no doubt that the prime minister will do all it takes to maintain the State of Israel's security. He'll be tested in the way he takes. Just like he has promised to give up on the bed on planes carrying him and his wife to their future visits abroad, he should not go shooting his mouth off when it comes to ties with world powers and countries Israel depends on.