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Russia summons Israel envoy over ‘unacceptable public statements’

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said the ambassador's statements marked a "highly inauspicious beginning to a diplomatic mission."

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Credit: Photographer RM/Shutterstock.
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Credit: Photographer RM/Shutterstock.

Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Simona Halperin will be called on the carpet at the Russian Foreign Ministry over objectionable comments.

“Due to unacceptable public statements by the Israeli envoy, which distort Russian foreign policy approaches and historical facts, Halperin will be summoned to the Foreign Ministry,” the ministry told the TASS news agency.

The ministry said that her statements marked a “highly inauspicious beginning to a diplomatic mission that should be aimed at developing bilateral relations in the interests of the people of the two countries.”

Halperin, who entered her position two weeks ago, told leading newspaper Kommersant in an interview published on Saturday that “Russia, which suffered from terrorist attacks, does not support Israel’s fight against terrorism.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was particularly outraged “that the Israeli ambassador makes disrespectful comments about the efforts that Russia is undertaking in its interaction directed at assisting in determining the fate of hostages.”

During the interview, Halperin also expressed disappointment that International Holocaust Remembrance Day is not an official date in the Russian calendar and said, “I really don’t understand why Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov downplays the importance of this monstrous event.”

In January, Russia’s Foreign Ministry appeared to diminish the Holocaust’s impact on Jews, calling it a mass extermination of “various ethnic and social groups.” And in May 2022, Lavrov sparked outrage in Israel when he claimed that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood.”

“Statements that the Holocaust was the extermination of Jewish people alone contradict the resolution of the U.N. General Assembly,” the ministry said.

“While the reflections on the necessity of changing, as Halperin put it, Russia’s ‘state calendar’ border on meddling in the country’s internal affairs,” it added.

In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a tense phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid mounting tensions between Moscow and Jerusalem.

During the call, Netanyahu expressed “dismay” about the recent anti-Israel positions taken by Russian representatives at the United Nations and other international fora, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu said he emphasized that “any country that would suffer a criminal terrorist attack such as Israel experienced would act with no less force than the one with which Israel operates.”

The Israeli leader also strongly criticized the Kremlin’s “dangerous” cooperation with the Iranian regime.

According to TASS, the leaders’ conversation focused on the “catastrophic humanitarian situation” in Gaza, with Putin saying that Israel’s military response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack cannot lead “to such dire consequences” for Palestinian civilians.

The Russian readout added that Moscow is “ready to provide all possible assistance in order to alleviate the suffering of civilians and de-escalate the conflict,” and that the two countries are seeking to continue their cooperation in freeing hostages and evacuating citizens from the Strip.

On Oct. 25, Russia vetoed a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Hamas for its Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel, when terrorists infiltrated the border and murdered some 1,200 people.

The next day, Israel condemned Russia after it hosted a delegation of Hamas terrorists in Moscow, calling it “an act of support of terrorism.”

The ambassador of Russia to the United Nations has also told a General Assembly special session on the current war that Israel does not have the right to defend itself.

In response, the IDF stopped warning Russian forces in Syria ahead of every airstrike it carries out in the country, Bloomberg reported in early November, citing “people familiar with the situation.”

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