(September 12, 2019 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Thursday, just five days ahead of the Israeli elections in an apparent effort to win support from supporters of political rival and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman.
“I am happy to meet you again. The relations between Russia and Israel have never been closer. On the one hand this is natural,” said Netanyahu to Putin. “As you said, there are over 1 million Russian speakers in Israel. They constitute a living bridge between our two countries. I want to thank you again for the things you have done, for implementing the pensions agreement, and the veterans, this is something we worked on together; it is very important to our citizens.”
The two leaders also talked about the situation in Syria, where Russia is backing Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy.
“The security coordination between us is always important but it is especially important at this time because last month saw a very serious upsurge in the number of attempts by Iran to attack Israel from Syrian territory, and also to place precision missiles there against us,” said Netanyahu. “From our point of view, this is an intolerable threat, and we are taking action; therefore, we must also ensure that the coordination between us prevents friction. We are indeed doing this and we will continue—I am certain—to do so in our conversation as well.”
Putin said that “largely thanks” to Israel, security cooperation between the two in Syria has become “a new quality.”
The Russian leader said he plans to attend an event hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at Yad Vashem in January commemorating the Russians liberating Auschwitz 75 years ago.
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