Russian President Vladimir Putin recently sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urging Israel to hand over contested property of Jerusalem’s Church of St. Alexander Nevsky, Israeli media reported on Monday.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “the church, which is located in the Old City, was supposed to be handed over to Russia as part of a deal two years ago to win the release of the Israeli-American Naama Issachar, who had been detained in Russia on drug charges.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed over the phone on Monday the latest developments in Palestine and internationally, as well as bilateral relations between their two countries.
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) April 18, 2022
Sergei Stepashin, a former Russian prime minister, announced last Friday that Putin would be sending the letter, Haaretz reported, adding that “Moscow has been working for the past five years to have the compound transferred to its control.”
The move comes amid tensions between Moscow and Tel Aviv, following the April 7 vote to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council and the statement released by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accusing Russia of “killing innocent civilians” during its “unjustified invasion” of Ukraine.
Moscow summoned on Sunday Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alex Ben Zvi, amid diplomatic tensions over the Russia-Ukraine war.
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) April 17, 2022
Russian Foreign Ministry responded to Lapid’s accusations saying that “there is an effort to take advantage of the situation around Ukraine to distract the international community from one of the longest unresolved conflicts — the Palestinian-Israeli.”
The Russian statement also denounced “the illegal occupation and creeping annexation of Palestinian territories (…) carried out with the tacit connivance of the leading Western countries and the actual support of the United States”.
(The Palestine Chronicle)