Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to congratulate him on Israel’s Independence Day.
The two discussed Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks about Hitler and Jews and according to a statement from the prime minister’s office, Bennett accepted Putin’s apologies for “Lavrov’s anti-Semitic” remarks. Bennett thanked Putin for the president’s attitude toward the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust, the statement said.
The two leaders also discussed the war in Ukraine and Bennett made a humanitarian request to Putin to consider various options for evacuating civilians from Mariupol. The request comes after Bennett’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.
Earlier on Thursday, Putin sent a letter to President Yitzchak Herzog congratulating him on Yom Ha’atzmaut.
“My sincere congratulations on the occasion of the Independence Day of the State of Israel,” Putin wrote. “I believe that relations between Russia and Israel will continue to develop for the benefit of our people and for the strengthening of peace and security in the Middle East. I wish you good health and great success, as well as joy and prosperity for all the citizens of Israel.”
The letter comes after a back-and-forth war of words between Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Israel, which began with Lavrov’s comments that “Hitler had Jewish blood” and “the worst anti-Semites are Jews.” After Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slammed the statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Israel of supporting the “neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)