Netanyahu Meets Senior Russian Official for First Time Since Downed Plane Crisis

In meeting with Russian deputy PM, Netanyahu emphasizes importance of continued communication regarding regional threats despite recent incident

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 9, 2018.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov, marking the first time he convenes with a Russian government official since the downing of the Il-20 spy plane over the Latakia coast in Syria last month, for which Russia blamed Israel

Netanyahu has also spoken to President Vladimir Putin twice over the phone since the incident.

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Netanyahu and Akimov met in the prime minister's bureau in Jerusalem as Akimov visits the country for an economic conference involving Israel and Russia.

Netanyahu emphasized to Akimov the importance of continued communication between the two nations regarding regional threats, and the two discussed the countries' continued cooperation in medicine, science, innovation, construction and agriculture.

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Speaking Tuesday at an event announcing the new head of Israel's national bank, Netanyahu said Israel intends to continue acting against Iran and its allies in Syria andthat he believed ti was possible to reach an arrangement allowing continued coordination between Russia and Israel.

On Sunday, Netanyhau said he and Putin agreed to meet for the first time since the friendly fire incident, in which Syrian forces responding to an Israeli airstrike on September 17 mistakenly shot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 people on board.

Diplomatic tensions ensued between Jerusalem and Moscow after the latter accused Israel of the downed plane incident reportedly thawed somewhat on Saturday.

On Monday, Netanyahu stressed that relations between Russia and Israel are in a good place during a heritage center inauguration ceremony in the Golan Heights.

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"I know that President Putin understands my commitment to Israel's security, and I know that he also understands the importance I attach to the Golan Heights, which we all attribute to the Golan Heights and to Israel's heritage."

Russia has reportedly been trying to open communication channels between Israel and Iran "in order to reduce tensions and prevent friction" in Syria after the delivery of the S-300 missile systems, London-based Arabic language newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported Saturday.