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1 Nov, 2023 14:17

Relations with Russia are ‘normal’ – Israeli envoy

According to the Jewish state's ambassador to Moscow there have been no major changes in relations between Moscow and West Jerusalem
Relations with Russia are ‘normal’ – Israeli envoy

Israel and Russia may sometimes disagree on various issues but relations between the two countries have seen no major changes and remain “normal,” the Jewish state’s envoy to Moscow, Alex Ben Zvi, has told the Kommersant newspaper.

“There are ups and downs,” the diplomat said, noting that sometimes Israel is dissatisfied with Russia’s position and sometimes vice versa. However, both sides always try to find common ground.

At the same time, Ben Zvi admitted that coming to an understanding “is not always possible,” such as in the case of the recent visit of a Hamas delegation to Moscow. 

Last week, several senior representatives of Hamas – the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza – visited the Russian capital to negotiate the release of hostages and the safe evacuation of foreign nationals trapped by the ongoing Israeli blockade.

The head of the visiting delegation, Moussa Mohammed Abu Marzouk, announced that his group would look thoroughly for Russian citizens and would pay greater attention to requests from Moscow. He also praised Moscow's constructive position on the ongoing escalation.

The Israeli government responded by calling on Russia to expel the delegation, describing their official visit as an act of support for terrorism and a legitimization of the atrocities committed by Hamas during the October 7 attack on Israeli territory, that cost the lives of over 1,400 Israelis.

Ben Zvi also insisted that there was no need for Moscow to hold any sort of talks with Hamas. “Our position regarding the hostages is very simple: Hamas must release them. There is no need to conduct any business related to hostages. This is not a business. This is a simple humanitarian approach,” the envoy said.

Moscow has in turn insisted the Hamas delegation did not have any contacts with the Kremlin during its visit and only held talks at the level of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov noted, however, that Russia believes it necessary to maintain contact with all sides of the conflict and offered a reassurance that Moscow will also continue dialogue with Israel.