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Netanyahu Reportedly Refused To Mediate Between Russia And U.S. On Iran

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after their talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 10 News has claimed in an article on Axios news website on December 20 that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected "an unofficial proposal for a deal between the U.S. and Russia on Syria and Iran intended to start a wider dialogue between Washington and Moscow to improve relations."

Ravid has quoted "two Israeli officials with direct knowledge" on the matter without naming them.

The proposal would have helped Iran's exit from Syria in exchange for not reimposing U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

According to Axios, sanction relief for Tehran was exactly what made Netanyahu reject the plan.

The report was published only one day after U.Ss President Donald Trump surprised allies and even officials in his own administration by announcing a troop pull-out from Syria following, in his words, a victory over ISIS which left no reason for U.S. forces to remain in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Israel National News also reported that "Russia reportedly asked Israel to 'open the doors' for dialogue with White House over Iran and Syria."

According to the Israel National News, "Israel has refused an offer to mediate a deal between the United States and Russia," adding that "It was also reported that Russia had asked Israel to mediate between it and the United States and encourage the White House to restore relations with the Kremlin, adding that the Russians had asked Israel to "open gates in Washington for a dialogue with Trump."

Earlier, on October 6, Russian news website Sputnik reported that Russia was trying to mediate between Iran and Israel as tensions were escalating in Syria.

Sputnik characteristically attributed the report to other media sources citing a London-based publication: " Russia made an effort to open channels of communication between Israel and Iran in a bid to reduce tensions, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat has reported, citing a senior Russian source," wrote Sputnik.

However, the Sputnik report did not contain anything on sanction relief although it hinted at some sort of contact between Iran and the United States.

"This week, Washington urged Tehran to make use of the Russia-US deconfliction hotline to warn the US of any air or missile strikes in Syria following Iran's attack against Daesh (ISIS) forces just a few kilometers from a US military base, which came without prior warning," Sputnik reported.

The Axios report also does not include any reactions by Iranian officials and is silent about whether Iranians were informed of the proposal for mediation.

A month earlier, Axios had reported that Netanyahu was aware of the mediation plan, but still regarded it as a "a general idea."

Elsewhere, in other reports Netanyahu had said that "Russia needs other big powers' cooperation in order to pave the way for Iran's exit from Syria."

However, sanction relief is a big incentive for Iran as its economy has been more or less paralyzed by the re-imposition of US sanctions following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The sanctions hit Iran hard particularly after November 4 when they targeted Iran's oil exports, shipping and international banking operations.