Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin NetanyahuIsrael news photo: (Flash 90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu disappeared from the public eye on Monday, returning 12 hours later after what his aides had said was a trip to a secret military facility. On Wednesday, anonymous sources in the Prime Minister's Office gave a different explanation for the disappearance – a clandestine trip to Moscow to discuss Russian arms deals in the Middle East.

According to reports in Israeli media, Netanyahu flew to Moscow after informing only a handful of senior officials of his plans. Russian leader Vladimir Putin denied that he met with Netanyahu.

Israeli officials have expressed concern over Russian weapons sales to Middle Eastern countries, particularly Iran and Syria. Israel is worried by Iran's acquisition of advanced anti-aircraft systems, which could be used to protect that country's nuclear facilities. as well as by the possibility that such weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist groups such as Hizbullah.

One versions of the report stated that reported that Netanyahu met Monday with senior Russian officials to discuss a new proposed weapons deal with Iran, while a different version claimed that the Prime Minister presented proof that Russian weapons were making their way to Hizbullah.

President Shimon Peres recently visited Russia and spoke to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Following the meeting, Peres said Medvedev had promised to reconsider the delivery of S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.

Several days later, rumors broke out regarding a Russian ship that was hijacked while en route to Algeria. Media reported that the ship may have been carrying S-300 missiles to Iran, and Russia, one month later, has denied the report.

The Lebanese paper Al Manar offered a different version of events, suggesting that Netanyahu had taken a secret trip to an Arab state with which Israel has no diplomatic ties. There, he met with state officials to propose normalizing ties, the paper stated.