Netanyahu Speaks With Russian President Putin, Gives Rare Presser In Paris

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in an impromptu conversation in Paris on Sunday, the first face-to-face between the leaders since September’s accidental downing by Syrian forces of a Russian reconnaissance plane. The two initially were supposed to hold a formal meeting, however, the Kremlin canceled it amid ongoing tensions over the incident that killed 15 Russian servicemen and which Moscow blamed on Jerusalem. Netanyahu only said that the discussion with Putin “was very good and to the point,” likely centering on military coordination in Syria; the recent transfer to the Assad regime of the S-300 defense system; and how those two issues impact Israel’s ability to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily along the shared border and delivering advanced weaponry to its Hizbullah proxy in Lebanon. Netanyahu afterwards held a rare public press conference, in which he slammed the European Union’s “hostile” positions vis-a-vis Israel. The premier naturally denounced Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions, which he said has led to a strengthening of ties with Sunni-Arab countries, and reiterated praise for the renewal of American economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Regarding anti-Semitism, Netanyahu revealed that he addressed the issue with leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties in the wake of the deadly attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, adding that the best way to ensure Jewish continuity is to build a strong and secure Israel that remains closely bonded to the Diaspora.

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