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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

More than three months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin's national security adviser Nikolai Patrushev gave his Israeli counterpart a document. It contained 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, two Israeli officials with direct knowledge tell me.

Why it matters: The Russian proposal would have tied a U.S. withdrawal from Syria to an Iranian exit from the country, and provided the U.S. and Israel more influence over a future political settlement in Syria. However, it also called for a freeze on U.S. sanctions on Iran — something Netanyahu found unacceptable. Ultimately, the U.S. gave up much of its leverage in Syria with President Trump's surprise announcement Wednesday of a unilateral withdrawal.

Background: Last month, I reported that Netanyahu told a closed door hearing at the Knesset that Russia proposed a deal for pushing Iranian forces out of Syria in return for relief from some U.S. sanctions against Iran. We now know that Netanyahu's comments referred to a document called the "Patrushev Paper."

  • The Patrushev Paper was given to Israel in a meeting that took place in Moscow on Sept. 13 — four days before the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria that kicked off a deep crisis between Israel and Russia.
  • The two Israeli officials told me Russia's proposal was that Israel would act as a facilitator between the U.S. and Russia and encourage the White House to start a dialogue with the Kremlin on Syria and Iran as an opening for a wider bilateral discussion.
  • "They asked us to open the gates for them in Washington," one Israeli official told me.

Details: The Israeli officials who saw the "Patrushev Paper" said it included these main points ...

  • Freezing the U.S. plan for reimposing economic sanctions on Iran in November as part of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
  • A Russian commitment to push Iranian and pro-Iranian forces out of Syria.
  • A withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, mainly from the Al-Tanf base.
  • The opening of a dialogue between the U.S. and Russia on the issue of Iran.
  • Using the U.S.-Russian dialogue on Syria and Iran to expand their dialogue on other bilateral relations.

What happened: The Israeli officials told me Netanyahu rejected the proposals in the Patrushev Paper because he thought the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran could be used as leverage on the Iranians over Syria — not the other way around.

  • "For Netanyahu, stopping the Iranian nuclear program was above everything else, and this is why he refused to show any flexibility on the issue of U.S. sanctions," one Israeli official told me.
  • A second Israeli official told me that, if Israel didn't reject the Russian proposal, it might have been able to ensure that any U.S. decision to pull out of Syria would be part of a deal on the Iranian presence in the country — not merely a unilateral move.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.