Unhappy with Israel taking Ukraine’s side in the war, Russia sharply criticized Israel for its actions on the Temple Mount, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said on Wednesday.
“Russia is unhappy with us about Ukraine, and is taking it out on us through the Palestinians,” said the source. “This is their traditional stance on the Palestinians, and they play with the volume knob. We didn’t think Russia would be happy with our stance on Ukraine, and we’re not happy with their attack on a sovereign state.”
Still, the source stated, Israel has to consider its security, with an emphasis on continuing the deconfliction mechanism with Russia in Syria.
At the same time, Israel sees some caution in the Russian response, pointing out that the readout of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not include a condemnation of Israel.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israeli Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi to Moscow.
Days earlier, Russia criticized Israel for its vote to support removing Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, and for Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling its actions in Ukraine war crimes.
“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’s resolution to suspend the Russian Federation’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “We have already given our assessments of this unlawful and politically motivated resolution. 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.
“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.”
In an interview with Russian news agency TASS after his meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Ben Zvi said that Israel is still ready and would consider it “a great honor” to host a summit between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Jerusalem.
Israel would be willing to serve as a guarantor of an agreement between the sides if asked, Ben Zvi said, “if it comes from both sides. [...] A request from one side will not be enough.”
Ben Zvi said that Putin and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “are in regular contact.”
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Israel brought up such a meeting several times, and that Putin isn’t opposed to it, but a document must be prepared first.
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 ridding Ukraine of its Nazis is one of its reasons for starting the war.
Bennett, who has tried to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, has been quieter than Lapid on the war, avoiding mentioning Russia and mostly expressing in his comments his sorrow at the bloodshed.