By Adina Katz, World Israel News
In a phone conversation with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized for the antisemitic comments made by his top diplomat.
Putin reportedly called Bennett to express congratulations on Israel’s 74th Independence Day.
On Sunday, in an interview with Italian news channel Zona Bianca, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “The fact that Zelensky is Jewish does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood.”
The comment sparked outrage in Israel.
“This is both an unforgivable and scandalous thing to say – and a terrible historical mistake,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said. “We expect an apology.”
“I view with utmost severity the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement. His words are untrue and their intentions are wrong,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated Monday afternoon.
Lavrov doubled down, saying that “some of the worst antisemites are Jews.”
On Wednesday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, –who has been urging Israel to provide military assistance since the beginning of the Russian invasion of his country 10 weeks ago — phoned Bennett to discuss Lavrov’s “scandalous and completely unacceptable” remarks. Zelensky tweeted that he updated the Israeli leader on the situation on the ground.
When Bennett, who had been acting as mediator between the two countries, spoke with Putin the following evening, he took the opportunity to make a humanitarian request, the prime minister’s media spokesperson said.
“The Prime Minister presented the President with a humanitarian request to examine various options for evacuation from Azovstal in Mariupol. The request came as a result of Prime Minister Bennett’s conversation yesterday with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky,” the spokesperson said in a press release.
“President Putin promised to allow the evacuation of civilians, including wounded civilians, through a UN and Red Cross humanitarian corridor.”
During the call in honor of Israel’s 74th Independence Day, “the Prime Minister accepted President Putin’s apology for Lavrov’s remarks and thanked him for clarifying his attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.