Israel, Russia Celebrate 25 Years of Diplomatic Ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a small delegation arrived in Moscow Monday for a two-day state visit, marking Netanyahu’s third trip to the Russian capital and his fourth visit with President Vladimir Putin in less than a year. The two leaders also met in Paris on the sidelines of the U.N.-sponsored climate change conference last November.

Netanyahu’s visit, which marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, comes against the backdrop of increased Russian involvement in the war in Syria.

The two leaders will discuss a variety of regional issues, such as the global fight against terrorism, the situation in and around Syria, the diplomatic horizon between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as bilateral economic and trade cooperation and the strengthening of cultural and humanitarian ties between Israel and Russia.

Netanyahu and Putin will also sign a bilateral pension’s agreement correcting “an historic injustice” against Russian Jews who lost their eligibility for a Russian pension upon immigration to Israel.

The visit marks the official 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Israel and Russia. But it wasn’t always that way.

Russia wasn’t on Israel’s side in June 1967 when it defeated the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian militaries in just six days, ending Jordan’s occupation of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and reuniting Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty. Russia espoused a decidedly anti-Zionist agenda at that time, siding with the Arab world against Israel.

Netanyahu is accompanied by his wife, Sara, outgoing Immigration Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.

Netanyahu and his wife will visit Russia’s armored corps museum in Moscow, where they’ll see the Israeli tank captured in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during the First Lebanon War in 1982, which Putin has agreed to repatriate to Israel.

Thirty IDF soldiers died in the battle, which was viewed as an Israeli intelligence failure. Three soldiers – Yehuda Katz, Zvi Feldman and Zachary Baumel, an Israeli-U.S. citizen – remain missing in action. The three were paraded through Damascus atop their captured tank. Time magazine reporter Dean Brelis testified to having seen the three captives alive at the time.

Netanyahu and his wife will also meet with leaders of the Russian Jewish community, including Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt and Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner.

The delegation returns to Israel on Wednesday.

This article originally appeared on CBN News, June 7, 2016, and reposted with permission.