Netanyahu tells Putin Mideast deal a 'new opportunity'

Last Updated 30 January 2020, 10:27 IST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hailed US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan as a new opportunity after flying to Moscow to discuss it with President Vladimir Putin.

"I think there's a new and perhaps unique opportunity here," said the Israeli premier, who stood alongside Trump at the White House when the plan was announced Tuesday and called it a victory for Israel.

Trump's plan angered Palestinians by proposing Israel retain control over Jerusalem as its "undivided capital" and giving the green light to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"I'd like to speak to you and hear your insights and see how we can combine all our forces for security and peace," Netanyahu told Putin at the start of their Kremlin meeting.

"You're actually the first leader I'm speaking with after my visit to Washington about President Trump's Deal of the Century," he added.

The Russian leader did not mention the peace plan in his public remarks.

Netanyahu, facing graft charges, is contesting March elections and hoping the proposal will boost his re-election chances.

The March 2 vote is Israel's third in less than a year, with polls suggesting the prime minister's rightwing Likud is again neck-and-neck with the centrist Blue and White party led by ex-military chief Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu was visiting Russia on the same day that it released a young US-Israeli woman jailed for drug trafficking over a small amount of cannabis found in her luggage as she transited a Moscow airport.

Her case caused an outcry in Israel and her release came after Netanyahu pleaded her case with Putin, who issued a pardon.

(Published 30 January 2020, 10:22 IST)

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