Russia-Israel tensions delay Netanyahu departure for UN General Assembly

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife, Sara, left for New York City mid-afternoon Tuesday where he’ll address the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and meet privately with US President Donald Trump. The annual event began September 18 and ends on the last day of the month.

Before departing, Netanyahu convened the Security Cabinet to discuss recent tensions with Russia over Syria’s downing of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft last week. Russia blamed Israel for the downed jet. On Monday, Russia announced delivery of S-300 surface-to-air anti-missile batteries to Syria. Both the US and Israel urged Russia not to supply the more advanced anti-missile system to the regime. Syrian forces used an S-200 battery to down the Russian aircraft.

Because of his late arrival, Netanyahu will miss President Trump’s speech as well as that of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, Trump and Netanyahu will meet one-on-one, with Iran and the many issues it engenders – military entrenchment in Syria, arming terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and US economic sanctions related to its nuclear weapons program – topping the agenda. The two leaders will also discuss the administration’s proposed plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting is projected to take about an hour.

Afterward, Netanyahu will meet with several other international leaders, including Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

On Thursday, Netanyahu will address the General Assembly following remarks by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Families of Israeli terror victims tried unsuccessfully to convince US officials not to allow Abbas entrance into the country.

Netanyahu also hopes to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the assembly and with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday.

This article originally appeared on CBN News, September 25, 2018, and reposted with permission.