PM: Deep­en­ing ties with Moscow im­por­tant for Is­rael’s security

Ne­tanyahu heads to Rus­sia to mark 25 years of diplo­matic ties

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By TOVAH LAZAROFF and YAAKOV LAP­PIN (Ivan Sekretarev/Reuters)

The deep­en­ing ties be­tween Is­rael and Rus­sia are im­por­tant for the coun­try’s security, Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu said Sun­day as he ad­dressed a Jerusalem Day cer­e­mony on the eve of his de­par­ture to Moscow.

On Tues­day he will hold his fourth face-to-face meet­ing with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in less than a year to strengthen military co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries, and to cel­e­brate 25 years of diplo­matic re­la­tions. The par­ley will be his third in or near Moscow. The two also met in Paris in Novem­ber.

On the hol­i­day mark­ing the uni­fi­ca­tion of Jerusalem dur­ing the 1967 Six Day War, Ne­tanyahu could not help but re­flect on what an enor­mous dif­fer­ence time makes in the re­la­tion­ships be­tween na­tions.

In 1967, he said, the Arab armies sur­round­ing Is­rael and bent on de­stroy­ing it were sup­ported by the Soviet Union.

Rus­sia to­day is a world power, and its re­la­tion to Is­rael only grow stronger and deeper, Ne­tanyahu.

These ties are im­por­tant “for our na­tional security and pre­vented un­nec­es­sary vi­o­lence along our bor­ders,” he con­tin­ued.

Ear­lier a state­ment from the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice said that the two lead­ers would dis­cuss ter­ror­ism, the on­go­ing Syr­ian civil war, and the stalled peace

process to end the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict.

Rus­sia has an ac­tive military pres­ence in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly in Syria, and it is also an arms sup­plier to Iran.

It is also one of five per­ma­nent mem­bers of the United Na­tions Security Coun­cil.

Is­rael has worked to strengthen its ties with Moscow, along­side those of its chief ally, the United States whose Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, Ne­tanyahu has met only once in the last year.

It has worked to co­or­di­nate its military air ac­tiv­ity in the re­gion with Rus­sia, so that the two mil­i­taries do not in­ter­fere one with the other in the Syr­ian the­ater.

Co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the IAF and the Rus­sian air force con­tin­ues to be good, due to the need by both coun­tries to

avoid in­ad­ver­tent in­ci­dents in the crowded skies over and around Syria. Co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the de­fense es­tab­lish­ments of Jerusalem and Moscow has been pos­i­tive and fruit­ful, with hot­lines in place that have been used to keep Rus­sian and Is­raeli air plat­forms out of each other’s way.

Rus­sia con­tin­ues to pro­vide air sup­port to the As­sad regime, and its Hezbol­lah and Ira­nian back­ers on the ground. Although Moscow has re­duced the num­ber of fighter jets de­ployed in Syr­ian air bases on the Mediter­ranean coast, it still keeps its air force ac­tive in the war torn coun­try. Rus­sian jets bombed rebel po­si­tions in Aleppo over the week­end.

De­spite the fact that Moscow is work­ing closely with the Tehran-led axis, which in­cludes

Is­rael’s most bit­ter, for­mi­da­ble en­emy in the re­gion – Hezbol­lah – Rus­sia’s pres­ence has proven to be a mod­er­at­ing, re­strain­ing in­flu­ence on Hezbol­lah’s con­duct vis-a-vis Is­rael.

Nev­er­the­less, Rus­sia is com­plet­ing the sale of the ad­vanced S-300 ad­vanced sur­face to air mis­sile de­fense sys­tem to Iran, which will sig­nif­i­cantly up­grade the regime’s abil­ity to de­fend its nu­clear sites against any at­tack.

The ar­rival of the F-35 jets later this year from the US will go a long way to as­sist­ing Is­rael in build­ing up ca­pa­bil­i­ties to over­come such sys­tems, as well as the ad­vance air de­fense sys­tems that Hezbol­lah has man­aged to smug­gle into Le­banon from Syria.

Ne­tanyahu trav­els to Moscow with his wife Sara, Agri­cul­ture

Min­ster Uri Ariel and Jerusalem Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ze’ev Elkin, who im­mi­grated to Is­rael from the for­mer Soviet Union in 1990.

In honor of the 25th an­niver­sary, Putin has signed a pres­i­den­tial de­gree to re­turn to Is­rael a tank which has been in a Moscow ar­mory mu­seum that was used in the 1982 bat­tle of Sul­tan Ya­coub, from which three IDF sol­diers are still listed as miss­ing in ac­tion.

Dur­ing the visit the Is­raeli del­e­ga­tion will look to in­creased co­op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia with re­gard to the econ­omy, trade and cul­ture.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the two coun­tries will sign a pen­sion agree­ment to award ben­e­fits to em­i­grants from the for­mer Soviet Union who worked in Rus­sia prior to 1992. The sig­na­tures will not fully end the pro­tracted bu­reau­cratic process, and pen­sion pay­ment for Rus­sian re­tirees in Is­rael are not likely to be­gin be­fore 2017.

Jerusalem and Moscow will also sign an agri­cul­tural mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with re­gard to dairy farm­ing.

Ne­tanyahu will in­au­gu­rate an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­en­tial ex­hibit on Is­raeli tech­nol­ogy.

He will also meet with Jewish com­mu­nal lead­ers, in­clud­ing Rus­sia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Pin­chas Gold­schmidt and Rus­sian Jewish Congress Pres­i­dent Yuri Kan­ner.

Separately, while Ne­tanyahu is in Rus­sia, US Am­bas­sador Daniel Shapiro will meet with the Bayit Ye­hudi fac­tion to dis­cuss US-Is­rael ties, in­clud­ing is­sues re­lat­ing to the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions of a 10-year Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing that would pro­vide Is­rael with military aid.

PRIME MIN­IS­TER Benjamin Ne­tanyahu speaks with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin dur­ing their meet­ing at the Novo-Ogary­ovo state res­i­dence near Moscow last Septem­ber.

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