Netanyahu considering canceling trip to Paris

PN Netanyahu reportedly considering canceling trip to Paris Peace Forum due to the fact that he won't be able to meet Putin.

Ben Ariel ,

Vladimir Putin and Netanyahu
Vladimir Putin and Netanyahu
Kobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering canceling his trip to the Paris Peace Forum next week, officials in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem said on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host more than 100 world leaders in Paris on November 11 to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. In addition, an initiative to improve international cooperation and governance will be launched at the forum.

Netanyahu was scheduled to fly to the conference on Saturday night, but may cancel the trip due to the fact that it will be impossible for him to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the convention.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said on Tuesday that the structure of the conference, the tight schedule and the absence of side rooms create conditions that are not conducive for side meeting between leaders.

Last week, a senior Israeli official indicated that Netanyahu and Putin could meet in the coming weeks to discuss the situation in Syria.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said that Putin’s agenda for his November 11 visit to Paris does not include a bilateral meeting with Netanyahu, though he added that the two leaders may hold a brief conversation during the day’s events.

Netanyahu and Putin have held several meetings in recent months over Israel’s concern over the Iranian presence in Syria.

Relations between the countries have cooled since the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane over Syria last month.

An IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing over Syria in mid-September, following an Israeli airstrike on a military research facility in northern Syria.

The plane, which was carrying 15 crew members, was later declared lost, after apparently being downed by a Syria surface-to-air missile.

Russian officials blamed Israel for the downing of the IL-20, saying the IDF had provided just one-minute advance notice of the impending airstrike to Russian Defense Ministry officials, adding that the Israeli fighter jets had used the IL-20 to draw the Syrian air defense network’s fire.

Israel denied the claims, saying its jets were already out of the combat zone and in Israeli airspace when the IL-20 was downed, and that the IL-20 had been far from the area of the airstrikes during the Israeli operation.

An IDF delegation was later dispatched to Moscow to share information collected by Israel as part of its investigation into the incident.

The Russian government refused to accept the validity of Israel’s investigation into the incident, however.