Vladimir Putin’s upcoming talks with Benjamin Netanyahu in Sochi are more important for the Israeli PM’s fight for re-election, but comparing notes with a key Middle Eastern player is also good for Russia, experts have told RT.
When Netanyahu lands on Russia’s Black Sea coast on Thursday, he’ll do so with mostly domestic politics on his mind, says Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist and columnist with newspaper Haaretz. “There is only one purpose to the visit and that’s the election.”
‘It’s all about the election’
“Netanyahu wants to show [voters] that he’s a statesman who meets the leaders of the world” like Putin, he believes.
A snap legislative election is scheduled to take place in Israel on September 17. It was ordered when Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition after the vote in April, becoming the first prime minister in the country’s history to commit such a blunder.
“Netanyahu is now fighting for each vote because the picture is very even,” Levy explained.
Sochi was chosen as his destination because “there are many [Israeli] voters who were born in Russia. For them, it might be impressive that President Putin is meeting with Netanyahu so often,” he said.
The fact that the Israeli PM is going to Putin, of all international leaders, ahead of a crucial domestic vote again proves that “Russia is now a very important player in the Middle East,” Tatyana Karasova from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies pointed out. “Even Israel, which used to only look at the US, is unable to ignore Moscow’s stance.”
‘Putin will ask him not to annex Jordan Valley’
The visit is taking place in the wake of Netanyahu’s controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank if he’s re-elected. The statement was clearly aimed at garnering support from right-wing political forces before the vote, but the Israeli leader would still have some explaining to do in Sochi.
“The position of Moscow is unchanged – it’s against any annexations,” Karasova pointed out. “Netanyahu needs to make it so that his extremist statements don’t hamper relations with Russia… he values those ties highly and considers them his merit.”
What Vladimir Putin is likely going to tell Netanyahu in Sochi is: “Don’t annex the Jordan Valley,” Dmitry Maryasis,