During Putin visit, Netanyahu hopes to bolster alliances at home too (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 06/22/12)
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Over the last week, workers for the Netanya municipality have been
scrubbing clean every possible part of the square housing the
impressive sculpture erected to commemorate fallen Red Army soldiers.
That´s where Russia´s new-old President Vladimir Putin will arrive
not long after landing in Israel on Monday.
The monument was the result of a joint initiative by Putin and Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one which Putin specifically asked to
inaugurate during his visit.
After leaving Netanyahu, Putin will arrive in Jerusalem where
Netanyahu will host the new Russian president at his residence. The
latter cancelled his participation at the Netanyahu ceremony
following his recent leg injury, thus perhaps avoiding a battle both
credit and seating arrangements with President Shimon Peres, who too
will attend the statue´s inauguration and who is planned to host
Putin in a state dinner.
Joining Netanyahu´s lunch with Putin will be two officials who have
caused the premier quite a bit of agony over the evacuation of the
Ulpana Hill outpost and the settlement regulation bill - Public
Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein and coalition chairman Zeev Elkin.
Edelstein was the most prominent minister opposing the Ulpana Hill
evacuation and supporting the bill that would regulate West Bank
construction, eventually, however, backing down over, among other
reasons, Netanyahu´s threats to fire ministers who voted for the bill.
At the time the public diplomacy minister said that a phone call he
received from Netanyahu, in which the premier updated him on plans
for extensive settlement construction, convinced him for retract his
Eklin, for his part, persisted in his resistance, launching a head-on
attack struggle with Netanyahu over the settlement bill, which
infuriated the premier, who went as far as threatening to fire the
Two weeks ago, Elkin met with Netanyahu and offered his apology for
his conduct concerning the bill, saying: "Last week´s flurry of
emotions caused us to find in conflict," adding: "Things were said
that shouldn´t have been said."
"It´s alright for people to disagree in a debate, but it mustn´t
become personal. If there were things I said that could be
interpreted as a personal offence against you, then I wish to
apologize for that," Elkin reportedly said.
Netanyahu, who invited the two officials to accompany him during a
2010 visit to Moscow, asked them to join the upcoming meeting to
serve as interpreters, but also as part of a kind of political
maintenance meant to take the sting out of future mutinies.
Also invited to the meeting are Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz. (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/22/12)
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