Putin-Bennett summit: Minister Elkin will translate and promote cooperation

Monistet Elkin to Arutz Sheva: Israel's security is important to Putin also because of the many Russians who immigrated to Israel.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Bennett and Elkin
Bennett and Elkin
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin sat down for a conversation with Arutz Sheva prior to his departure for the Putin-Bennett summit in Sochi tomorrow.

The visit comes after the Israeli government for many years boasted of the warm personal relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Minister Elkin is confident that the current prime minister will also find a friend in Russia and says: "Putin has a positive base attitude towards Israel and the Jews, so to this day all Israeli leaders have had good relations with him."

"Interpersonal chemistry is important," he adds, "so this first meeting is important." The meeting will be held in a very limited and personal setting and will include only President Putin, Prime Minister Bennett, Putin's interpreter and Minister Elkin.

Elkin, who accompanied Netanyahu during all of his meetings with Putin for about a decade, joins the trip under three hats - as head of the Israeli side since 2015 on an intergovernmental committee on Israeli - Russian relations that coordinates all cooperation between the two countries, as a member of the Political-Security Cabinet since 2015 who is familiar with Israel's relations with Russia in the security and political fields, and also as the interpreter of the Prime Minister of Israel.

"Our messages need to be very accurate," Elkin says, "and it's best to have them translated by someone who is knowledgeable about the material and understands the sensitivity and nuances."

Elkin states that the issue of Syria to be raised at the meeting does not cause significant tension between the countries. "There are certain rules of the game that have been established over the years. For us, this is a critical and important issue from a security point of view."

He emphasizes that for the Russians, the main issue is not Syria, but bilateral relations between the two countries. In this regard, Elkin says that trade with Russia reached three billion dollars a year before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and after the decline in the last two years there is a desire to return to the same dimensions of trade. In the meantime everything seems to be back to normal.

Bennett and Putin will also discuss talks to establish a free trade area with Russia and all other Eurasian Economic Union countries: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

As Arutz Sheva previously reported, another issue that is expected to come up at the summit is the Russian community in Israel and the hope that the community can serve as a bridge between the countries. "Putin refers to it as a kind of 'Russian representation' in Israel," Elkin explains, adding that Putin has previously said that Israel's security is important to him because of the many Russians who have moved to Israel.