First Meeting of Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Zelensky

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DAILY DOSE | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his two-day visit to Kiev. This is the first meeting by an Israeli official in 20 years and the first meeting of a foreign leader with President Zelensky. 

Story: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked Sunday on an official visit to Ukraine — from which many Israelis descend — a month ahead of the Jewish state’s national elections.

Netanyahu said he was traveling at the invitation of Ukraine’s recently elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, in what Israeli media reported was the first visit to the country by an Israeli premier for 20 years.

In a video released on YouTube, Netanyahu said the two men would discuss the “establishment of a free trade area, the pensions agreement and a host of other issues that will further strengthen the excellent relationship between the two countries.”

Zelensky, who is Jewish, has hinted at admiration for the Jewish State, invoking its defensive prowess in his inauguration speech in May.

“We must become Icelanders in soccer, Israelis in defending our land, Japanese in technology,” he was quoted by the BBC as saying in a pledge to protect the “protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

More than a million people from former Soviet republics came to Israel after the Iron Curtain fell.

Israeli society assimilated the equivalent of a fifth of its population.

Netanyahu also plans to visit the Babi Yar Memorial, the site of a major Holocaust massacre in April 1941 that saw more than 33,000 Ukrainian Jews shot dead by Nazi troops.

Analysts say Netanyahu is seeking to bolster the standing of his Likud party among Israelis of Ukrainian origin ahead of legislative polls due on September 17.

Such voters have historically been inclined to vote for the nationalist and pro-Russian Yisrael Beitenu party, led by Netanyahu rival Avigdor Lieberman.

Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies won the most seats in an April election but failed to forge a viable coalition prompting a repeated round of elections.

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