Liberman: Israel, Russia Have ‘Transparent, Honest’ Relationship

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel will not hit Syrian missile systems – including a Russian-supplied S-300 missile system – unless it is used against Israeli forces, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an interview with a Russian newspaper. Speaking to Kommarsant, a nationally distributed newspaper in Russia, Liberman said Israel would have no cause to hit the systems if they were not directed at Israel. “But if they open fire against our planes, we will certainly respond,” Liberman said, stressing that Israel “is not seeking tension with Russia, and does not seek to interfere with Syria’s internal affairs.”

Liberman said he was hopeful that Russia would respond to Israel’s request not to supply Syria with the advanced missile system. “In recent weeks many countries have evicted Russian diplomats, but Israel has not done so,” Liberman said. “We have normal relations with Russia, and we are taking into account Russia’s interests. We hope Russia will take into account our interests.”

In recent years “we have developed an open, transparent and clear dialogue with Russia, even when our opinions and views differed,” Liberman said of Israel’s relations with Moscow. “We are conducting a transparent dialogue on a constant basis, and we don’t hide anything.”

Responding to a question about Israel’s acquisition of the Iranian “Atomic Archives” presented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this week, Liberman said the files “are clear proof that Iran has never halted its nuclear program. It acted not just to enrich uranium, but to develop nuclear weapons. All they have done is temporarily freeze their program in order to extract the maximum value from it. Why would Iran need to enrich uranium when it has huge stores of gas and oil? They have constantly talked about developing a civilian nuclear program, but from the beginning this was not the purpose.

“Iranian leaders on a weekly basis declare that they will destroy the ‘Zionist entity,’ and we do not see any clear protest, neither from Europe or Russia, which have very clear memories of their experiences in World War II,” Liberman said. “We expect a clear denunciation of Iran’s threats and actions by Russia,” he added.