Netanyahu set to meet with Putin in Moscow

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Moscow tomorrow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In its statement the Prime Minister’s office did not elaborate on the intended topics of discussions.

That said, the high-level meeting comes less than a week after the Israeli air-force had allegedly conducted an aerial strike on an “industrial zone” northeast of the Syrian city of Aleppo. While the bombardment reportedly destroyed warehouses belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, a fact that keeps in line with Israel’s declared efforts to thwart Tehran’s military aspirations of entrenching itself militarily in Syria; Russian defense officials have on several occasions demanded that Israel ends its “arbitrary” airstrikes on targets in its war-torn neighbor, dubbing those actions “provocative.”

While a source familiar with the details of the Prime Minister’s trip insisted that the meeting with the Russian President will focus on security related issues; Netanyahu’s political rivals have accused him of intentionally scheduling the trip just several days before the upcoming parliamentary elections, as part of his election campaign.

A close associate of the Prime Minister’s chief rival, Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz, claimed that Netanyahu aims to obtain yet another photo-opportunity with Russian President Vladimir Putin, less than a week before the April 9th election. The source further noted that Netanyahu seeks to bolster his domestic-image as a global leader, in contrast to his inexperienced rival. It is important to note that as opposed to previous years, opinion-polls indicate a neck-and-neck rivalry between Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White faction. While Netanyahu repeatedly accused Gantz of holding/advancing a so-called “Left-wing-agenda,” even though both the ‘Likud’ and ‘Blue and White’ have presented almost identical party-programs. That is why, political analysts have referred to the upcoming elections as “a referendum on the leadership of Netanyahu,” who will become the longest serving Israeli Prime Minister to date, if re-elected.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem’s Mahneh Yehudah market, which is considered to be a stronghold for the ruling Likud party, Netanyahu supporters continue to maintain his innocence vis-à-vis possible corruption charges, declaring the Israeli leader as the only one who can represent Israel in the highest levels of the global stage. According to Yoram Shabtai, a Vendor-seller Mahaneh Yehudah Market “People always want to topple him and do various things to make him fall. Bibi has the best ability to talk in front of world nations. He is admired, he is loved, he is successful. No matter what, only Bibi Netanyahu.” Uzi Sharabi, who is also a Vendor-seller at the market, commented that: “A respected person on this level should enjoy life. He works hard, he works for us, for our benefit. It feels like Bibi was born for this job.” / “No one can talk like him and represent the country on such a level as he does, no one.”