For First Time Since Downing of Russian Plane, Netanyahu Set to Meet Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will soon be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, which would be the first meeting between the two leaders since errant Syrian fire downed a Russian military plane last month, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Netanyahu announced the proposed meeting at the beginning of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting. He said that he would meet with Putin “in order to continue the important inter-military security coordination” in Syria. He added that, despite the diplomatic fallout since the incident, “Israel will act at all times to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria.”

However, the Post observed that since the downing of the Russian plane, which the Russian military blamed on Israel, “there have been no reports of Israeli action against Iranian or Hezbollah targets in Syria.”

Though the Russian government usually publishes readouts of calls between Netanyahu and Putin, the Kremlin only listed Netanyahu as being one of the world leaders who sent birthday wishes to Putin.

The meeting would be the fourth between Netanyahu and Putin over the past two years. They most recently met over the summer, before Putin met with United States President Donald Trump. At the time, Netanyahu said that he had received assurances from the Russian leader that the latter would not allow Iranian troops near Israel’s border.

Despite the tension over the downed plane, Israeli and Russian delegations are beginning a two-day meeting to bolster economic ties between the two countries, The Times of Israel reported Monday. Among the topics to be discussed are trade, pension payments to Russian immigrants in Israel, health, and education.

Israel is also engaged in talks with member states of the Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union on establishing a free trade deal.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]