A senior Israeli official said Wednesday that the crisis that began after Syria accidentally downed a Russian plane during an Israeli aerial assault in the war-battered country last September, has come to its end, with both sides willing to put the incident behind them.
The Russian Defense Ministry presented the findings of its investigation into the incident in September, holding Israel responsible for the downing of the Ilyushin IL-20 plane that killed 15 people on board.
The official's remarks came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, which was their first working meeting since the downing of the plane.
During Netanyahu and Putin's three-hour meeting, IDF's Head of Military Intelligence Major General Tamir Heiman provided the Russian president with intelligence evidence that Iran is attempting to entrench itself in Syria and outlined the measures Israel is employing to prevent it.
In addition, Minister Ze'ev Elkin, National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, Netanyahu's Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz and political advisor Reuven Ezer attended the meeting.
Following the meeting, Netanyahu told reporters that the talks went very well and mainly focused on IDF activity in the region and the Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
"We presented examples of Iran's entrenchment attempts and the steps we are taking to counter them," Netanyahu said.
"I think President Putin showed understanding of Israel's security needs and concluded our talks were very productive. The (Israeli-Russian) relations, which everyone said are experiencing difficulties, are back on the track of cooperation.
Netanyahu confirmed he and Putin discussed the matter of the downing of the plane, in addition to Israel's concern over that fact Moscow is providing Syria with the S-300 anti-missile system.
"We have made our position very clear. I told Putin that Israel will continue protecting itself from any Iranian aggression coming from Syrian soil," he said.
"(Our intentions) were made absolutely clear, while stressing Israel will continue its military coordination with Russia to avoid unnecessarily frictions and dangers. We discussed all aspects of that matter. As this visit concludes, which both I and President Putin defined as very productive, I can say we held a frank, open and very direct discussion while touching on matters that concerns us," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister told reporters that pushing Iranian forces out of Syria is Russia and Israel's common goal, adding that he and Putin agreed on setting up a joint team to implement that goal.
In addition, the two leaders discussed Iranian presence on the Syrian Golan Heights near the Israeli border, which contradicts Russia's past commitment to prevent such a situation.
"We spoke in detail about the Iran's presence and its proxy Hezbollah, about their attempts to use Syria (to achieve their goals)," Netanyahu said.
Asked whether Putin demanded Israel halt its attacks in Syria, Netanyahu replied: "I'm not coming back with restrictions, but with clear policy —we will continue operate (in Syria)."
Despite Russian unsuccessful mediation attempts to broker an agreement between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas that rules Gaza, the Palestinian issue was not discussed during Netanyahu and Putin's meeting.