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Netanyahu Not Welcome: Israeli PM Wanted to Travel to Moscow After Il-20 Shootdown, Russia Turned Him Down

Only the IDF Air Force chief was accepted by the Russians

Here is one curious detail from the crisis following the shootdown of the Russian Il-20 surveillance plane during an Israeli air raid on Syria. Israel was so concerned what the Russian reaction would be it wanted to dispatch a high level political delegation, possibly including the Prime Minister, to argue its case and try to smooth things over but Putin turned them down.


In the days following the incident, the Russians rejected Israeli attempts to send senior political officials to Moscow. That’s why in the end, a military delegation led by Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin was sent. The Russian investigation into the incident and announcements by the Russian Defense Ministry focused on the Israel Defense Forces’ performance, blaming the IAF’s “lack of professionalism,” and even suggesting that the military misleads the Israeli government and does not obey its instructions.

Israel had initially wanted to send a delegation headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to Moscow that would have included representatives of the IAF and military General Staff. Russia rejected this suggestion. According to several sources, the possibility was raised that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman would go to Moscow to try to calm things down. Russia, however, preferred that the contacts remain at the professional level, between Norkin and the commander of the Russian air force.

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