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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia in 2021 Picture: BLOOMBERG/YEVGENY BIYATOV.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia in 2021 Picture: BLOOMBERG/YEVGENY BIYATOV.

Israel said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to apologise after a heated public disagreement between the two countries over remarks made by the Russian foreign minister suggesting Adolf Hitler was Jewish.

Bennett accepted Putin’s apology for foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments, the prime minister’s office said on Twitter. The Kremlin statement made no mention of any apology, instead saying that Putin and Bennett agreed on the importance of remembering the victims of World War 2, including the Holocaust. They also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, which Russia invaded on February 24.

In an Italian TV interview on Sunday, Lavrov defended Moscow’s justification for its invasion of Ukraine as denazification, despite the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish, saying that “Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood too.” He added: “This means absolutely nothing. Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

Bennett and other top officials denounced the Lavrov comments, which the Israeli prime minister described as “lies” that aim to accuse the Jews of responsibility for the Holocaust. Russia’s foreign ministry refused to back down, with spokesperson Maria Zakharova accusing Israeli mercenaries of fighting along with far-right Ukrainian elements.

Israel, which has close security ties with Russia, has maintained channels of communication with Russia despite the 10-week-old Russian assault on Ukraine. The anger sparked by Lavrov’s interview marked an unusually tense exchange between the two countries.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
Bloomberg 


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