Israel registered an official protest with Moscow on Thursday after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziyad al-Nakhalah.PIJ is a “terrorist organization supported by Iran that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and systematically undermines arrangements in the Gaza Strip by attacking Israeli civilians,” Israeli interim Ambassador to Russia Eli Belotserkovsky told Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who also met with Nakhalah Wednesday night. The Russian Foreign Ministry website said the meeting between Lavrov and Nakhalah focused mostly on the West Bank and Gaza and “the task of speedy restoration of Palestinian national unity on the political platform of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a necessary condition for establishing sustainable direct negotiations with Israel.”Russia “reaffirmed its firm commitment to the two-state principle” based on UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.The Russian Embassy to Israel tweeted photos of the meeting, including one in which the Lavrov and Nakhalah are shown shaking hands and others from the delegations sitting around a table. It deleted the tweet soon after.Asked about the deletion, the embassy’s spokesman said: “This topic concerns the Russian Representative Office in Ramallah, and they have their own Twitter account.”Nakhalah, 66, spends most of his time moving between Lebanon and Syria and has “excellent and strong” relations with Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, the spokesman said.Born in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip in 1953, the father of six was first arrested by Israel in 1971 for membership in the Arab Liberation Forces, a terrorist group headed by Ziad al-Husseini. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he became fluent in Hebrew, and was released in a prisoner-exchange agreement with Israel in 1985.Nakhalah was arrested by Israel in April 1988, a few months after the eruption of the First Intifada. He was deported to Lebanon in August that year, when he was appointed PIJ’s unofficial envoy to Beirut.In 2014, Nakhalah led his group’s delegation to negotiations with Egypt that ended Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. The seven-week operation came after Hamas fired rockets into Israel.He was elected PIJ secretary-general in April 2018.Nakhalah is believed to have been closely associated with Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the US earlier this year. According to some reports, Soleimani was in charge of providing PIJ and Hamas with financial and military aid.Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.