Russian oligarch and President Boris Yeltsin’s richest friend Anatoly Chubais arrived in Israel with other business leaders Monday, part of a private trip that could significantly renew Israel’s campaign to increase economic ties with Russia.
Mr. Chubais, a recent addition to President Vladimir Putin’s closest circle of advisors, is expected to help push Moscow’s $7 billion annual trade with Israel forward.
(See video, below.)
“We believe that Russia and Israel have special relations, because of common history, culture and religious influences,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a visit to Moscow in June. The trade relationship is “inevitable,” he said.
New ways of trying to enhance those ties were evident Monday, as Israel’s envoy to Moscow said peace negotiations with Syria are no longer on hold and, at the same time, the Russian president gave greater weight to the dangers of foreign Jews emigrating to Israel.
Mr. Putin (Photo: The Wall Street Journal)
“We must prevent the arrival to Israel of young people from countries where there is a history of anti-Semitism,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a ceremony marking Israel’s 55th anniversary.
He was referring to more than 20,000 non-Jewish Russians who are expected to immigrate to Israel in 2011, according to Alon Liel, director general of the Israeli Embassy in Moscow. The Kremlin was also preparing new legislation to tighten restrictions on political emigration, Mr. Liel said.