Jerusalem: A planned meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been postponed, an official in Jerusalem said Wednesday.
The official told Xinhua news agency on anonymity that the meeting, planned to be held in Moscow Thursday, was delayed in mutual consent and a new meeting will be scheduled in a few days.
Instead of the meeting, Netanyahu and Putin will speak over the phone Thursday, according to the agency.
Israeli local media reported that Netanyahu cancelled the meeting because of domestic political affairs and amidst efforts to unite forces with other right-wing parties ahead of the elections to be held April 9.
Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported that Netanyahu cancelled his trip because of an assessment that his main rival, former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces Benny Gantz, will join forces with the central party of Yesh Atid.
The meeting was supposed to be Netanyahu’s first trip to Moscow since Syrian forces mistakenly intercepted a Russian surveillance plane during an Israeli airstrike. Russia held Israel accountable for the downing of the plane.
Sunday, Netanyahu said that the meeting was aimed at strengthening the military coordination of both countries’ military activities in Syria and “prevent friction between the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and the Russian army.”
The meeting was also supposed to focus on Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in Syria.
Israel and Russia hold a hotline to avoid their air forces from clashing in the Syrian battlefield.
Israel has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of deadly airstrikes in Syria, saying that they targeted on Iranian sites and weapons’ convoys to Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militia.