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Ahead of Election, Netanyahu to Visit London, Sochi

In what analysts are construing as a bid to boost his electoral chances in the September 17 national election, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to London on Thursday to meet with his counterpart, Boris Johnson. In Britain, Netanyahu will discuss tensions in the Middle East, particularly in vital Gulf waterways, as well as Europe’s ongoing push to salvage the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. Shortly thereafter, he will head to Sochi for a one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin that is expected to focus on Iran’s ongoing attempts to establish permanent military infrastructure in Syria, as well as its efforts to transfer advanced weaponry to its Hizbullah proxy in Lebanon. Experts believe Netanyahu’s trip Sochi is also geared toward wooing Russian-Israeli voters, who traditionally have formed the base of former defense minister Avigdor’s Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. The announcements came just hours after Netanyahu canceled a scheduled visit to India, which raised speculation he was planning other high-profile diplomatic initiatives prior to the upcoming vote.