Netanyahu praises Putin’s fight against radical Islam in Russia visit

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Russia’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State and Al Qaida during a one-day visit to Moscow.

In a statement issued prior to his meeting Thursday in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Netanyahu stressed that it is important to make sure that Iran does not step in to fill the vacuum left by those terror groups.

“Of course, in the past year, there was significant progress in the fight against the radical Sunni Islamic terrorism led by Daesh and Al Qaida,” the statement said, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the Islamic State. “Russia has made a very important contribution. Naturally, we do not want this terrorism to be replaced by the radical Shiite Islamic terrorism led by Iran.”

Netanyahu also thanked Putin for offering greetings for the Jewish holiday of Purim, noting that the holiday marks an attempt by Iran’s Persian forbearers to destroy the Jewish people.

“Twenty-five hundred years ago in ancient Persia, there was an attempt to wipe out the Jewish nation that was unsuccessful, which is being marked with this holiday,” the prime minister said. “Today there is an attempt by Persia’s heir, Iran, to destroy the state of the Jews. They say this as clearly as possible and inscribe it on their ballistic missiles.”

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“I would like to say as clearly as possible: Israel is a state today. We have an army and we are capable of defending ourselves. But the threat of radical Shiite Islam threatens us no less than it does the region and the peace of the world, and I know that we are partners in the desire to prevent any kind of victory by radical Islam of any sort,” he said.

Netanyahu noted that his meeting with Putin in Moscow reflects “genuine friendship and a tightening of relations in economics, technology, tourism and culture, as well as the living bridge of the one million Russian speakers living in Israel.”