Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi on Sunday over Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s condemnations of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The summons, to a meeting to take place on Monday, came days after Moscow criticized Jerusalem for its vote to support removing Russia from the UN Human Rights Council and for Lapid’s comments.
“We noted another anti-Russian attack made on April 7 by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the context of his country’s support for the UN General Assembly resolution to suspend the Russian Federation’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council.
"We have already given our assessments of this unlawful and politically motivated resolution," the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday, not citing a specific official as the source of the remarks.
“There is a thinly veiled attempt to take advantage of the situation around Ukraine in order to divert the attention of the international community from one of the oldest unresolved conflicts — the Palestinian-Israeli one.
“As you know, in violation of numerous decisions of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly, the Israeli government continues the illegal occupation and ‘creeping annexation’ of Palestinian territories, as a result of which over 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank of the Jordan River today live in scattered enclaves cut off from the outside world. The Gaza Strip has essentially become an ‘open-air prison,’ whose two million people have been forced to survive for almost 14 years under the conditions of the sea, air and land blockade imposed by Israel,” the statement said.
“It is also noteworthy that Israel’s course of maintaining the longest occupation in post-war world history is carried out with the tacit connivance of the leading Western countries and the actual support of the United States,” the statement concluded.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the summons or the statement from Moscow.
Earlier this month, Lapid accused Russia of committing war crimes after photos of mass civilian casualties in Bucha, Ukraine, came to light.
“A large and strong country is invading the territory of a smaller and weaker country with no justification,” Lapid said. “The photos and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenseless civilian population. I condemn these war crimes.”
At the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Moscow summoned Ben Zvi and accused Israel of “supporting Nazis.” Russia has claimed that it is “denazifying” Ukraine as one of its reasons for starting the war.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been quieter than Lapid on the Ukraine war, avoiding mentioning Russia and mostly expressing sorrow at the bloodshed in his comments on the matter.
Israel has tried to preserve its deconfliction mechanism with Russia, by which it informs Moscow before it strikes Iranian targets in Syria. In addition, Bennett attempted to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the war.