Netanyahu had 'very important' meeting with Putin in Paris
(Yuri Kadobnov/ Pool photo via AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Sunday in Paris as world leaders commemorated 100 years since the end of WWI.
"The conversation with Putin was good and to the point, and I would even say that it was very important," Netanyahu said.
The meeting was also confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who said the two leaders held a “short talk” without specifying further.
Israeli Hadashot TV reported on Sunday that Netanyahu told his cabinet that the “the crisis with Putin is far worse than we thought.”
The Israeli Prime Minister was referring to an incident in September, where a Russian plane was mistakenly downed by Syrian air defense, killing 15 serviceman on board, during an Israeli air strike in Latakia.
Russia blamed the downing of its plane on Israel for not notifying it about its airstrikes in time for the Russian plane to steer clear of any danger.
Netanyahu apologized to Putin following the downing of the plane, but said he was sure that the dispute would be settled.
However, the incident apparently dealt Israel a strategic blow, according to Hadashot TV's report.
“Putin sees the downing of the plane as a personal affront to his prestige and this is an important component in his perception of power. Therefore, this is a strategic blow that made the crisis worse,” Netanyahu reportedly said.
-US midterms and anti-Semitism-
i24NEWS asked Netanyahu if he seeks to re-establish ties with the Republican party in the wake of the US midterm elections, and if it's even necessary.
"I don't have to re-establish connections, because they are there and they are excellent. I called both leaders in the aftermath of the midterms. I called Chuck Schumer (Democrat) whom I have known 30 years at least. He is a close friend. I called Mitch McConnell (Republican), whom i have known 20 some years, and I congratulated both," Netanyahu told i24NEWS.
"I also called and congratulated two personal friends. Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat), who is a tremendous champion and who fought he Iran deal. I also called Ted Cruz (Republican) who has been an Israel supporter from the other side. I think the bipartisan support for Israel is critically important. I do everything i can to maintain it and expand it," he added.
i24NEWS also asked Netanyahu about anti-Semitism and whether the actions against it are strong enough.
"First of all there is a great issue of anti-Semitism. I spoke to Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) this afternoon. The fact that you have to guard synagogues in Germany in the 21st century is simply absurd," Netanyahu said.
"Anti-Semitism is not going away," he continued, adding that it also exists in the US. It becomes evident when you hear someone yelling "death to Jews", Netanyahu added, referring to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 people were killed last month.
-Gaza and probes-
During the press conference in Paris on Sunday, Netanyahu was asked whether he had any knowledge about his associates’ involvement in the purchase of naval vessels, often referred to as “Case 400” to distinguish from other corruption cases which Netanyahu is involved in.
“Wait for the end of the field trial. There are field trials and media trials,” Netanyahu said.
He also stressed that it’s up to the public to judge whether he is fit to lead Israel, not the media.
On Gaza, Netanyahu said it was important to avoid an “unnecessary war” with Hamas, and that Israel wants to “prevent a humanitarian collapse in Gaza, and that's what we're doing."
"First, we aim for calm, then an agreement. We’re not there yet. The decision to go ahead with this process is the right one, I think. The decision was reached not without argument but I think it’s what leaders need to do for security and in order to prevent unnecessary wars. Will it succeed? It’s too soon to say," Netanyahu added.
The seven month long flare up in Gaza which began with mass demonstrations on March 30, almost brought Israel and Hamas to a war.
"Believe me, we were a step away from exerting maximal force and I think Hamas understood this. So on the one hand our military is prepared and on the other hand we are taking steps to bring calm," Netanyahu said on Sunday.
A number of reports on the ongoing ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and Israel were released over the weekend, suggesting substantial development.
On Friday, Palestinian civil servants formed long queues in Gaza to receive Qatari-funded salaries, as part of efforts to ease tensions in and around the impoverished territory.
A total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments of $15 million, according to authorities, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Palestinian enclave.
Qatar has also said it would hand out $100 to each of 50,000 poor families, as well as larger sums to Palestinians wounded in clashes along Gaza's border with Israel.
On Saturday, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that Qatar and Israel agreed to begin preparations for the establishment of a sea crossing between Gaza and Cyprus.
The crossing is to be conducted under international administration with Israeli security supervision.
Al-Akhbar reported that Israel had been demanding they be able to have a security presence at the crossing, which Hamas refused to accept.
Though not finalized, an agreement was apparently reached which will allow Israeli security forces to monitor the crossing via cameras and connect to the computer network, but international inspectors will be the only physical presence allowed, similarly to the agreement reached over the Rafah crossing in 2005.
Egypt and the United Nations have been brokering indirect negotiations for a long-term truce with Israel, with which Hamas has fought three wars since 2008.
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