US, Israeli, Russian security chiefs to meet in Jerusalem
June 14, 2019
Barring last-minute changes, senior Israeli and American officials will meet in the United States this coming week to prepare for a trilateral summit of the heads of the US, Russian and Israeli national security councils. National security advisers John Bolton, Nikolay Patrushev and Meir Ben-Shabbat will convene June 24 in the Israeli capital to discuss the post-war order in Syria.
“This is a crazy event. I don’t have sufficient superlatives to describe it,” an Israeli defense source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “It’s true that at this stage, the importance of the event is in the very decision to hold it, but think about it: Fifty-two years after Jerusalem’s liberation, we are bringing together there the heads of the American and Russian security councils to discuss arrangements for Syria after the war, with us as part of the process.” The official got somewhat carried away talking about a “new Sykes-Picot” — referring to the 1916 agreement dividing the region between the British and French colonial powers. Still, there is rare consensus in Israel about the summit being a tremendous achievement for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a strategic Israeli message to Iran and the rest of the Middle East that Israel is part of the axis of powers working together to instill a new order in the Middle East.
The upcoming summit is likely to star in Netanyahu’s reelection campaign throughout the summer months ahead of the Sept. 17 vote. For once, he appears to have come by this achievement deservedly. The summit was decided on before Netanyahu knew he would be unable to form a government and would be dragged into new elections, leaving him with an alibi. It was not a pre-election stunt, but Netanyahu will undoubtedly use it to leverage his electoral prospects, as he always does.
There was a glitch in the lead-up to the summit: On June 5, military intelligence head Maj. Gen. Tamir Heyman presented an overview of events in the region at the Israel Heritage and Commemoration Center. “If you are looking for a world leader who speaks to everyone, look no further than the Russian player,” Heyman said, complimenting Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Russia’s dominance in the region is tangible; Russia almost intentionally instigates friction and then seeks to be instrumental in resolving it by its presence in the region.”