President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues, good afternoon. I know that, following the Jewish calendar, you celebrated the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, just recently in Israel, and I want to congratulate you all on that event. As far as I know, the fast begins tomorrow, and this is also celebrated as a holiday – Yom Kippur. I want to wish you all the very best on this occasion, and, as they say in Israel, good words in the book of life.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (retranslated): Mr President, thank you for your congratulations. For my part, I would like to congratulate Russia on its holiday too.
I value greatly this chance to meet and talk with you. Israel and Russia have a common interest in ensuring stability in the Middle East. I am here because of the difficult security situation, which, as you know, has become more and more complicated on our northern borders over these last years, and particularly over these last weeks. As you know, Iran and Syria are arming the radical Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah with modern weapons aimed against our citizens, and thousands of rockets have been launched against Israel’s people over these last years. At the same time, Iran, with the Syrian army’s help, is trying to establish a second terrorist front against us on the Golan Heights.
Our policy is to do everything we can to stop arms supplies to Hezbollah and prevent the opening of a second terrorist front against us on the Golan Heights.
In this situation, I thought it very important to come here to clarify our position and do everything possible to ensure that no misunderstandings arise between our forces and Russia’s forces in the region.
Let me say just one more thing: whether at the personal level or at the national level, in all our contacts, whether we agreed with each other or had some differences, the dialogue between us has always taken place in a spirit of mutual respect and openness. I am sure that this will be the case today too.
Vladimir Putin: This will be the case, Mr Prime Minister. You can rest assured of this.
We never forget that many people from the former Soviet Union live in Israel. This gives the relations between our countries an extra dimension. Russia has always been very responsible in its actions in the region and will continue to be so.
As for the firing into Israeli territory, we are aware of these attacks and we condemn them. As I understand the situation, these attacks are being carried out using back-yard production weapons systems.
Regarding Syria, I think we are all aware that the Syrian army today is not in a state to be up to opening a second front. It has enough to do just trying to save Syria’s own statehood. But we fully understand your concerns, and I am very pleased that you have come here to discuss everything in detail. Thank you for finding the time to come.