Netanyahu and Putin Meet in Paris and Agree to Expand Security and Economic Cooperation

PARIS -

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin met yesterday at the global climate summit held in Paris and agreed to significantly expand the security and economic cooperation between the two countries. They also discussed ways to prevent mishaps from occurring while Russia is operating over Middle Eastern skies if Israel decides to take action against various entities. According to Netanyahu, there is currently nothing preventing Israel from taking action against terror entities and smugglers in the region.

Putin surprised Netanyahu when he began their conversation with a request to convey to the nation in Israel his blessings for Chanukah. “We went into the smallest details about what is happening in our region and also spoke about the incident with Turkey. President Putin updated me about everything that happened there,” Netanyahu said.

According to the prime minister, the new relationship with Russia is a very good one, and Israel is doing everything possible to prevent an incident similar to what happened with Turkey.

Earlier, Netanyahu had an unplanned and very interesting meeting with President Barack Obama. The two were taking part in a large group photograph where all  148 leaders attending the climate conference pose together.

As soon as the photographers finished their work, Obama approached Netanyahu, warmly shook his hand, and a conversation ensued for the next 15 minutes about various diplomatic matters as they walked on their way. Reporters who stood some distance away were unable to hear the content of the conversation but it appeared, from what they could see, to be very friendly.

Netanyahu later related that the subject of the conversation was primarily the Palestinian issue. The two also discussed the crisis between Russia and Turkey after the latter downed a Russian plane last week.

Netanyahu also met with German Chancellor Angele Merkel and prime ministers of India, Britain, Australia, Canada and Italy.

However, the most remarkable meeting was the one he had with Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen. The two had not met for five years. Netanyahu and Abu Mazen shook hands after the group photo, where they found themselves standing almost next to each other, the organizers having placed the prime minister of the Philippines between them. Nothing was said about planning a future meeting.

Netanyahu met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The two leaders exchanged opinions regarding the global war on terror. Abe mentioned his wish to continue to advance cooperation with Israel in the areas of cyber and economic activity, and the war on terror.

Netanyahu also participated in a reception that French President Francois Hollande held for all the leaders attending the summit. Many representatives of Arab nations that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel came over and spoke to Netanyahu, offering encouragement and noting that Israel’s way of dealing with terror is the right way. With that, they expressed a wish to bring an end to the Palestinian conflict, which would make it easier for them to establish full ties with Israel. Leaders of several other large countries spoke to Netanyahu regarding the possibility of security cooperation and receiving information about the war on terror.

Netanyahu and his entourage landed in Paris yesterday morning, and only one minister was sent to welcome him. That is not because the French don’t respect him or Israel in any way — but because at the same time, leaders of 148 nations were arriving, including President Obama, all 23 leaders of Europe, the presidents of China and Russia and dozens of others.

The relationship with France and the importance of Netanyahu’s attendance was indicated by the fact that the President of France Francois Hollande selected only a few of the guests to meet with personally, and yesterday Netanyahu was one of them. Their discussions began with matters relating to the climate summit but quickly moved on to the subject that is at the forefront of leaders’ minds at this time: the radical Islamic terror that is raging in their countries.

Netanyahu brought with him many ideas based on Israel’s experience and the lessons it has learned from its war against terror throughout the years. It is certainly possible that that is the reason Hollande placed a meeting with the Israeli leader high on the list of priorities.

Netanyahu and Hollande agreed to set up a conference with intelligence, military and police officials from both countries so that Israel could share some of its extensive experience with the French. The French are most impressed by the fact that whenever and wherever in Israel there is an attack, armed Israelis arrive at the scene sometimes within seconds, or minutes. It’s a painful subject for the French, who were stunned to find on the day of carnage last month that it took the police as long as one and a half to two hours to reach the terrorists — and even then, most of the police who arrived at the scenes were not armed.

Only this week did the French government decide to begin arming its police officers with guns and rifles, by contrast to the French approach until now that it wasn’t necessary for police officers to bear arms.

World leaders and guests who came to the opening session of the climate summit already encountered the new French police force, with lots of officers wearing protective vests and standing poised with their guns and radios — and, most notably, wearing the hardened expressions of people who know they have locked the stable doors after the horses have been stolen.

The summit is actually a summit within a summit. Forty-thousand participants are here at the largest ecological conference of its kind ever held. But the reality of life in the world in general, and in France in particular, has changed the central focus of those attending the summit.

When the United Nations planned the summit three years ago, and decided that it would be held in the City of Light, everyone was sure that world leaders would focus on the troubles stemming from the ecological changes affecting the world. Some scientists believe that the various gases create an artificial cloud beneath the sun that is causing the cooling of certain areas and the heating up of others. They believe that’s what leads to floods in one area of the world and severe drought in another.

According to some climate  experts, the war in Syria and the rebellion against the regime there can be traced back to the severe drought that continued for six years  and dried up streams in northern Syria. As a result, millions of Syrian farmers left their homes and began to wander to the big cities, where they did not find work — leading to the rebellion against President Assad. The rest is history.

In Paris yesterday, almost all the speakers warned that if rapid action is not taken globally to fight the damage to the ozone, and against pollutants, then many more countries are liable to face a similar situation.

But since the time when the main focus of the conference was set, the issue of terror has taken center stage, and the many meetings between world leaders dedicated significant amounts of time to this subject instead of to climate issues. While the color scheme of the conference may have been green, many of the discussions centered around the color black, which is threatening the world.

And while global meteorological organization members who were here yesterday presented figures predicting that this coming year will be the hottest in history, several leaders dealing with the war on terror reported that the year drawing to a close was the year in which more people were killed around the world from terror than in any other year.

In Iraq alone, 32,000 people were murdered in the last 12 months in terror attacks, not to mention those killed in Syria, Yemen and so many other places around the globe.