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Why Netanyahu's 'Asian option' is raising eyebrows in Israel

With a difficult relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama as the backdrop, Netanyahu has invested obvious effort in getting closer to China and Russia.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong strike a gong during their joint news conference in Jerusalem March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTSCN29
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During one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's frequent statements to the press in July, he offhandedly dismissed an assertion that he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier. A year or two ago, any conversation between the two men would have figured prominently in the news cycle. It would certainly have merited a separate story. In today’s world, however, it is not a story at all.

According to several Israeli sources familiar with the Israeli-Russian relationship, telephone calls between Netanyahu and Putin are now a matter of routine. Over the past few months, Netanyahu met with Putin face to face on three separate occasions, while he did not meet once with US President Barack Obama. He even turned down an invitation from Obama’s staff for a meeting in the United States. The question now is whether Netanyahu and Obama will meet in September at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. While it is assumed that they will, given the terrible relationship between the two men, it is hard to bet on such a meeting taking place.

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