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Netanyahu: Putin said that without me as PM, Israel and Russia would be at war

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a rare media interview ahead of tomorrow’s Likud leadership primary, in which he faces a challenge from Gideon Sa’ar, but uses much of it to push his own talking points and repeat his past remarks rather than answering the questions he is asked.

In pushing his message that Israel’s achievements in recent years are all thanks to him personally, the premier claims in an Army Radio interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin told him that had he, Netanyahu, not been prime minister — Israel would have been in a war with Russia. “Only because we meet every few months has this been avoided,” he alleges.

He brands as “absurd” the Russian court ruling to jail Israeli-American Naama Issachar for 7.5 years for carrying several grams of cannabis while in transit at Moscow’s airport, expressing hope Putin will grant her parole.

Netanyahu evades questions such as whether he will ask the Knesset to grant him immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases, and whether he will continue chairing the Likud party even if the High Court of Justice rules that he cannot form a government due to the criminal charges against him.

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