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Netanyahu polishes security image in Moscow as vote approaches

Another meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin was a chance for Netanyahu to boast of his Russian ties with Putin and emphasize a new security threat ahead of the elections.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RC15BA5C1800
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pass up no opportunity for political points as the April 9 elections approach. Today, April 4, he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, their second meeting in about six weeks. The last one took place on Feb. 27, after a long disconnect between the two leaders. This one comes only a few days before the political electoral verdict that will also decide Netanyahu’s personal fate. During this meeting, Netanyahu will also thank Putin. The Arab media reported that Russia was a third country that helped Israel to return the body of soldier Zacharia Baumel, who had been missing for 37 years. After he milked the March 25 celebration with President Donald Trump in the White House, Netanyahu is looking toward Putin, who is still venerated by many former Soviet Union citizens who moved to Israel. In this last-minute trip, Netanyahu is again trying to convey that no one can replace him in terms of international status.

Behind political considerations lies a complex security drama that is not entirely new. According to a report on Channel 13, on his last visit to Israel on March 20, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received sensitive intelligence regarding continued Iranian efforts to establish itself militarily in Syria and Lebanon. Pompeo received new details that evidently included the exact placement and aerial photos of a production plant for precision missiles that Iran is secretly building in Lebanon to serve Hezbollah. Netanyahu asked Pompeo to relay the information directly to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who Pompeo met after he left Israel.

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