FM reprimands Russian ambassador over ‘Post’ interview

Viktorov said Israel is a bigger problem for the Middle East than Iran’s proxy wars.

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov. (photo credit: RUSSIAN EMBASSY)
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov.
(photo credit: RUSSIAN EMBASSY)
The Foreign Ministry reprimanded Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov on Wednesday over remarks he made in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week.
“The problem in the region is not Iranian activities,” Viktorov said in the interview published on Wednesday. “It’s a lack of understanding between countries and noncompliance with UN resolutions in the Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
Viktorov also took issue with talk of Iran threatening Israel via Hezbollah, saying: “Israel is attacking Hezbollah; Hezbollah is not attacking Israel.”
In addition, the ambassador expressed doubt that Hezbollah built the attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel, saying there is no proof.
Foreign Minister
Gabi Ashkenazi spoke out against the remarks when asked about them in a press conference on Wednesday.
“I think it was made clear beyond all doubt that Israel does not accept these statements, and thus I hope we will bring an end to such embarrassing and unacceptable statements between us and Russia, and in general,” Ashkenazi said.
Earlier, Foreign Ministry Strategic-Diplomatic Department head Alon Bar summoned Viktorov and took issue with his remarks.
Bar said he rejected Viktorov’s remarks and that the Middle East that the ambassador described did not fit with the reality he has been shown many times and which has been discussed in diplomatic channels between the countries.
The Israeli diplomat called for the dialogue on regional matters, the Iranian threat and Iran’s terrorist proxies be held through diplomatic channels, and that reality and threats to Israel should not be ignored.
Viktorov told Bar he believes his words were taken out of context. He later wrote a letter of clarification to the Post.
The ambassador said that, while the quotes in the story were accurate, he disagreed with the conjectures drawn from the quotes and mentioned in the article, such as that he implied Israel was a greater destabilizing factor in the Middle East than Iran.
“Russian-Israeli constructive dialogue is founded on a solid base of partnership in various spheres,” Viktorov wrote. “The Russian Federation will continue to further develop and expand bilateral ties with Israeli counterparts in order to achieve lasting peace and stability in the Middle East for the benefit of the peoples of the region.”