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Netanyahu set to meet with Putin in Moscow



Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is expected in Moscow on Thursday.

Netanyahu is set to present the Donald Trump administration’s new plan for the Middle East to Russian President Vladimir Putin in person.

The plan, which will give Israel control over the contentious Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley, was announced earlier this week by  U.S. President Donald Trump alongside Netanyahu in Washington.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the plan, emphasising that he would prefer to continue peace talks with neutral brokers.

Russia has been pursuing a greater role as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians in recent years.

Putin met with both Netanyahu and Abbas last week in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, respectively.

“Russia is ready to continue to undertake all efforts, do everything it can, to reach a viable peace in the Middle East,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS on Wednesday.

Russia’s top diplomat has suggested that an international quartet of Russia, the U.S., the European Union, and the United Nations should examine the plan.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s visit, Putin pardoned an Israeli woman, Naama Issachar, whose sentencing to more than seven years in prison for possession of a few grams of marijuana at a Moscow airport last year rattled relations between their countries.

The pardon will help boost Netanyahu’s profile ahead of elections in March.

Putin met with the woman’s mother in Israel last week alongside Netanyahu.