A source close to Netanyahu and a European diplomat told me that a few days after he was ousted as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin promising a speedy return.
why it matters: Netanyahu and Putin had close ties that grew even closer after Russia began its military involvement in Syria in 2015. Netanyahu showed that relationship during election campaigns – meeting with Putin ahead of the 2019 vote and even photographing the two together. on a campaign billboard To emphasize his stature as a politician.
Behind the scenes: Shortly after Naftali Bennett was sworn in as prime minister on June 13, Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov visited Netanyahu with a personal letter from Putin, describing his time working together. Was.
- Netanyahu read the letter and told the Russian ambassador: “Tell President Putin that I will be back soon,” say sources.
- Flash Forward: The Kremlin has announced that Bennett will meet Putin in Sochi next Friday. According to Israeli officials, this will be their first meeting and will focus on Iran and Syria.
- What are they saying: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told i24News: “We try not to compare Netanyahu to the current prime minister because Netanyahu has worked with President Putin for many years and they know each other very well.” And developing new personal relationships takes time.”
state of play: Netanyahu has not been able to destabilize Bennett’s government, which appears on course to pass a budget in early November and thus buy himself another 18 months in power.
- There is growing internal discontent within Netanyahu’s Likud party, but he is highly popular with the loyalist party and Likud has been on an upward trajectory in the polls while in opposition.