The Diplomatic Agenda behind Benjamin Netanyahu’s European Travels

March 17, 2023 | Ron Ben-Yishai
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Yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu met with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz; last week, he was in Rome meeting with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The Israeli prime minister was also in Paris in February and is expected to visit Britain soon. While Netanyahu has received domestic criticism for being out of the country amid terrorist attacks and ongoing controversy over legal reform, his recent travel is in the service of an urgent, diplomatic purpose, according to Ron Ben-Yishai. That purpose is to shore up support for resisting Iran:

Netanyahu has apparently been attempting to convey to his European counterparts that weapons shipments coming out of the Islamic Republic are mostly meant for Moscow, to assist Russian efforts in the less-than-stellar military campaign against Ukraine. That in itself, Netanyahu says, compromises all of Europe. He has stressed to them that the technological and military cooperation between Russia and Iran is designed, among other things, to improve the accuracy and range of Iranian-made payload-carrying drones and anti-aircraft missiles to target the Ukrainians. In exchange, Iran gets a fresh supply of Russian fighter jets.

All of that will not only serve to prolong the war in Ukraine, but to make it easier for the Iranians to endanger shipping routes from the Persian Gulf to Europe, thus compromising the Israeli capability to defend the homeland effectively.

In comes Netanyahu’s wish for a weapons embargo on Iran, set by the UN Security Council, a move that could hamper Iranian efforts to secure the requisite military capabilities to mount such a threat. . . . Netanyahu, meanwhile, has no desire to be on Vladimir Putin’s bad side. Russian retaliation against Israel could come across in the form of banning the Israeli aviation from utilizing the Russian airspace, which could change the nature of Israeli commercial flights to southeast [and east] Asia. [Moscow] could also scramble communication frequencies and launch cyberattacks against Israel.

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