Edelstein hopes to 'close gaps' with Russia on defense issues

Edelstein called the meetings "very serious" and that a lot was learned.

Yuli Edelstein (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yuli Edelstein
MOSCOW - Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s visit to Moscow will involve discussions aiming to reach agreements on security matters, he said at the start of a meeting Tuesday with Valentina Matviyenko, his counterpart in the Federation Council.
Edelstein praised the cooperation between the defense committees of the two parliaments, but pointed out there are points of disagreement.
“Our Foreign Affairs and Defense committees will have to discuss how to close the gaps,” he said.
The Knesset speaker’s comments come at a time of increased spillover into Israel of fire from the war in Syria to which Israel has responded by attacking targets affiliated with President Bashar Assad. Russian forces have been fighting on Assad’s side since 2015.
“It’s no secret that there are tensions in our region, and Russia plays a role in the region,” Edelstein said at a press conference following the meeting.
“These meetings are meant to create a platform for better understanding.”
Edelstein said the meetings between the parliamentary defense committees were “very serious” and a lot was learned.
“I think they were able to see things differently in relation to the complex reality in Syria, northern Israel, Lebanon and Iran,” he added.
As for other issues, Edelstein said they discussed improving economic cooperation, education, Holocaust remembrance and fighting antisemitism.
Matviyenko kept her comments warm and vague, expressing, as Edelstein did, a wish to further strengthen relations between the two countries, and mentioning her two recent visits to Israel.
“We are satisfied with how relations between our countries are developing,” she said.
She also said Russia opposes all forms of racism, including antisemitism, as well as Holocaust denial.
Matviyenko was joined by the chairmen of several committees in the Federation Council, including the Defense, Foreign Affairs and Atrategic Affairs committees.
The Knesset delegation included MKs Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beytenu and Yoel Razbozov of Yesh Atid, both born in the Soviet Union.
On Wednesday morning, Edelstein will give the first speech by an Israeli official to the Federation Council.
He will begin his address in Hebrew, the language it was a crime for him to teach, and point out the symbolism of the event.
Edelstein also plans to praise improved ties between Israel and Russia, including the role of more than a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union in promoting those ties.
In addition, he will point to recent terrorist attacks in Russia and say they have the same roots as terrorism against Israel, calling for unification in fighting it.