Netanyahu to meet Putin, says Iran seeks permanent foothold in Syria

UNTV News   •   March 6, 2017   •   2685

File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a concert, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, June 7, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev/via REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday to voice opposition to what the Israeli leader charged were Iran’s attempts to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.

“In the framework of a (future peace agreement) or without one, Iran is attempting to base itself permanently in Syria – either through a military presence on the ground or a naval presence – and also through a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in public remarks on Sunday.

“I will express to President Putin Israel’s vigorous opposition to this possibility,” he said.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him.

Russia, also Assad’s ally, is seen as holding the balance of power in achieving a deal on Syria’s future. In Geneva on Friday, the first U.N.-led Syria peace talks in a year ended without a breakthrough.

Israeli leaders have pointed to Tehran’s steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or Shi’ite Muslim proxies, especially Hezbollah.

Majority-Shi’ite Iran says its forces are in Syria to defend holy Shi’ite shrines. However, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said in November the Islamic republic may seek to set up naval bases in Yemen or Syria in the future.

Last year, Avi Dichter, the chair of Israel’s foreign affairs and defense committee, said Iran had tried several times in the past to move forces into the Syrian Golan Heights, next to territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Dichter said those moves were repelled, but gave no details.

Netanyahu has said that Israel has carried out dozens of strikes to prevent weapons smuggling to the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah via Syria. Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire.

“I hope that we’ll be able to reach certain understandings to lessen the possible friction between our forces and their forces, as we’ve successfully done so far,” he said at the cabinet meeting, referring to the Russian military.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Ros Russell)

Israel’s Supreme Court clears Netanyahu to form government despite corruption charges

UNTV News   •   May 7, 2020

Photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz signing an agreement to form an emergency coalition government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment on corruption charges does not disqualify him from forming a government, Israel’s top court said late on Wednesday (May 6), paving the way for the veteran leader to remain in power.

In its ruling against opposition petitioners, the Supreme Court also found that Netanyahu’s unity government deal with his election rival Benny Gantz does not violate the law, dismissing arguments that it unlawfully shields him in a corruption trial.

The ruling removes a critical legal hurdle to the coalition government the right-wing Netanyahu and centrist Gantz plan to swear in next week, following three inconclusive elections in the past year.

It also moves the country closer to ending its political deadlock as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

Netanyahu was indicted in January on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing in all three cases. (Reuters)

(Production: Eli Berklzon, Rami Amichay, Lee Marzel)

Russian doctor who met Putin last week diagnosed with coronavirus – State TV

UNTV News   •   April 1, 2020

(L-R) Dr. Denis Protsenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin

A doctor who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital last week said on Tuesday (March 31) he had himself been diagnosed with the virus.

Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital last Tuesday where he chatted with the doctor, Denis Protsenko. Neither man was wearing protective equipment during their conversation, TV footage from the visit showed.

Protsenko, writing on Facebook said: “Yes, I have tested positive for coronavirus, but I feel pretty good. I’ve isolated myself in my office. I think the immunity I’ve developed this month is doing its job.”

The Kremlin said that Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay,” the RIA news agency reported.

It has previously said that Putin is being protected from viruses and other illnesses “around the clock.”

Putin donned a hazmat suit and a respirator during his visit to the hospital last week when dropping in on patients. But he did not have his protective gear on during a meeting with Protsenko, with whom he was photographed shaking hands.

The Kremlin reported a coronavirus case in Putin’s administration on Friday, but said the person in question had not come into contact with the president and that all measures were being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday granted the government powers to declare a national emergency over the coronavirus, and approved penalties for violations of lockdown rules including, in extreme cases, jail terms of up to seven years. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Scott)

Russian medical aid sent by Putin’s order arrives in Italy

UNTV News   •   March 23, 2020

Russian defence ministry showed on Monday (March 23) its aircraft landing at a military base near Rome as it delivered medical staff and equipment to help Italy tackle сoronavirus outbreak.

The Russian army on Sunday (March 22) began flying medical help to Italy after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin, a goodwill gesture that Moscow labeled “From Russia with love”.

When asked if Russia was expected Italy to return the favor by trying to get EU sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine lifted, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the notion as absurd.

“We’re not talking about any conditions or calculations or hopes here,” Peskov said. “Italy is really in need of much more wide scale help and what Russia does is manageable,” he said. | via Reutersconnect

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