Russia Nyets Netanyahu on Golan Sovereignty

YERUSHALAYIM -
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Russia on Wednesday rebuffed Israeli claims to sovereignty on the Golan Heights, which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted two days before.

“As long as it is dependent on me, the Golan will remain under Israeli sovereignty. Otherwise we will get Iran and Hezbollah on the banks of the Kinneret,” Netanyahu said on Monday at the dedication of a restored 1,500-year-old synagogue on the Golan Heights.

He further implied that Russia would likely back the claim:

“I know that [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin understands my commitment to Israel’s security, and I know he also understands the importance I attribute to the Golan Heights.”

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disabused the Israeli prime minister of such notions on Wednesday, citing his country’s support for the international consensus:

“The status of the Golan Heights is determined by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. “Changing this status bypassing the Security Council, from my perspective, would be a direct violation of these resolutions.”

It was another instance of discord between Israel and Russia, following the downing of a Russian plane over Syria which Russia, at least initially, blamed on Israel, as well as the transfer of hundreds of S-300 air defense systems to Syria, which Israel and the U.S. had strongly opposed.

Meanwhile, Russia’s visiting deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov tried to smooth over the difficulties, saying that “unfortunately, incidents happen.”

“In our very complicated and multipolar world, any two countries that share a relationship may develop different approaches regarding global challenges, and unfortunately there are sometimes incidents… But now we feel the good spirit and strong will [of our] leaders to continue both cooperation in the socio-economic sphere and political dialogue [regarding] the resolution of…difficult problems in the Middle East,” he said at the opening of a Russian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce just hours after meeting Netanyahu.

Akimov is in Israel to participate in the 15th meeting of the Israel–Russia Economic Forum at the Foreign Ministry.