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DJ: Your family was originally from Georgia, and I want to ask about Russia, which suddenly in the last few years has started playing a big role in the Middle East again. Prime Minister Netanyahu has reached out to Russia, has visited Moscow on a number of times, and clearly wants to have good relations with Russia, but on the other hand you have to balance that with relations with America and Europe, with the West. How do you see that developing? Do you see Russia as making a useful contribution or is it a problem?

TH: The mess in Syria is a major problem of Western civilisation. The whole impact of the immigrant crisis is coming from the crisis in Syria. So we must put the finger on where it starts. The main problem is the instability of the region, the main problem is Islamic radicals taking over, the main problem is our countries falling apart, leadership falls apart, leadership that is abolishing human rights in the most cruel way like Assad was doing to his own people, half a million people being killed in five, six years, those are the real big problems. Now, Russia gets into the picture because of the vacuum that the international community has created. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Putin co-ordinate and co-operate because one thing that is definitely on our table is that the safety of our country is influenced by what is happening in the north.

At the moment it is a very delicate cooperation that is based on military co-ordination in order to make sure there is not an Israeli-Russian clash. In general in international processes we don’t control anything. We don’t control most of the problems in the region, we don’t control what happens in Syria. We do not control the fact that Assad is a Russian ally. So Russia is becoming a strong player in the Middle East. I’m not saying we are happy about any international involvement in the region but just this one, I think, needs a lot of cautiousness by having this military coordination, because it has a strong influence on our safety and security.

DJ: Another close ally of Assad is Iran. What would you like to say about the Iranian problem, which for most Israelis has been the biggest threat in recent years?

TH: This is really maybe the flagship issue of my Prime Minister. I think he’s excited to meet President Trump for many reasons but the Iran issue is still the top issue between Israel and America. I’m not going to make any expressions of expectations because I think the two leaders should speak in a closed room but it’s definitely still the first and top issue.

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