Netanyahu, Putin to Meet as Russia Condemns Annexation Pledge (VIDEO)

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: via MEMO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian coastal city of Sochi for talks on Thursday after Moscow condemned the Israeli leader’s pledge to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Russia’s foreign ministry warned on Wednesday it was concerned over the Israeli leader’s plan, saying its implementation could lead to a “sharp escalation of tensions in the region [and] undermine hopes for the establishment of long-awaited peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors”.

Moscow pointed out that Netanyahu’s pre-election pledge drew a “sharp negative reaction” in the Arab world and reiterated its call for direct talks between Israel and Palestinians.

Battling to win re-election in September 17 polls, Netanyahu said on Tuesday evening that Israel would “apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea immediately” if he secured a fifth term, drawing firm condemnation from the Palestinians, Arab states, the United Nations and the European Union.

Netanyahu is slated to meet Putin on Thursday at 13:00 GMT as he fights to continue his reign as the country’s longest-serving prime minister after an inconclusive vote in April.

Netanyahu’s office said on Wednesday:

“The leaders will discuss regional issues including the situation in Syria, with an emphasis on tightening the military coordination mechanisms.”

Netanyahu is also expected to meet Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Israeli prime minister had also met Putin in Moscow days in the run-up to Israel’s April 9 election, where they discussed “events in Syria”, including the “special coordination between our militaries” according to Netanyahu.

During his televised announcement on Tuesday, Netanyahu also reaffirmed a pledge to annex all of the Jewish-only settlements Israel has established in the occupied West Bank.

Moscow on Wednesday also reaffirmed its “consistent and unchanging” position to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of two-state solution within the 1967 borders.

Some 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see these territories – along with the Gaza Strip – as integral for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

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