Moscow condemns Jordan Valley annexation plan on eve of Netanyahu's visit

The statement called for a return to direct negotiations based on “relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Principle and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

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September 12, 2019 09:01
2 minute read.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Moscow condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announced intention to  annex the Jordan Valley if he wins next week’s election, warning on the eve of his one-day trip to Russia on Thursday that this could lead to an “escalation” in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Moscow believes implementation of the plan “could lead to a sharp escalation of tension in the region and undermine hopes for the establishment of a long-awaited peace between Israel and the Arab neighbors.”

The statement called for a return to direct negotiations based on “relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Principle and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Netanyahu will travel to Sochi just five days before the election for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss regional developments and the situation in Syria. This issue may now also be part of the conversation.

On Sunday, at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the meeting will focus on “the continuation of military coordination so as to prevent a collision, given the upsurge in activity against us by Iran and its proxies, and our increased activity against them.”

Netanyahu and Putin set up a military coordination mechanism in September 2015, soon after Russia became militarily involved in Syria, in order to prevent accidental clashes between the two militaries there.

In addition to meeting with Putin, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The prime minister will be accompanied by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Military Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hayman, and Operations Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva.

This will be the 13th meeting between Putin and Netanyahu since September 2015, making the Russian president the leader Netanyahu has met with more than any other leader during that period.

The last time the two met was in Moscow on April 4, just five days before the last Israeli election. That visit came shortly after Moscow helped Israel gain the return of the remains of IDF Sgt. Zachary Baumel, widely viewed as a gesture to Netanyahu before those elections.

Netanyahu said last week that efforts were under way to arrange for another trilateral summit in Jerusalem of US, Russian and Israeli security officials to discuss the removal of Iranian forces from Syria. The first such meeting took place in June in Jerusalem.

The trip to Russia comes a week after Netanyahu made a lightning visit to London last Thursday, where he met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The meeting with Putin comes amid foreign reports of increased Israeli action against Iranian assets in the region, including in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The intention to meet with Putin so close to the elections has led to speculation that it is driven by the elections and an effort to attract older Russian immigrants to the Likud Party from Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party, or to underline Netanyahu’s diplomatic credentials by showcasing his ability to meet with Putin at a moment’s notice.


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