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5 Feb, 2024 22:23

Moscow slams ‘provocative and unacceptable’ remarks by Israeli envoy

An interview with Ambassador Simona Halperin has prompted a rebuke from the Foreign Ministry
Moscow slams ‘provocative and unacceptable’ remarks by Israeli envoy

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned remarks by the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, on issues including the holocaust and the Gaza conflict, calling them “provocative and unacceptable.”

An explosive interview with Simona Halperin, published by the Russian daily Kommmersant on Sunday, was slammed in a statement by the ministry as distorting the “historic realities and foreign policy approaches of our country.”

The ministry noted that Halperin had criticized Russia for not including an international Holocaust memorial day on its official list of state days, an issue she pledged to discuss with diplomats in Moscow.

Russia, in fact, is among the countries that first floated the idea of establishing an international memorial day at the UN back in 2005, the ministry stressed. In addition, the country has an entire memorial week dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust victims, it added.

The ministry also criticized Halperin for describing the Holocaust as an unprecedented mass-killing event that targeted “only the Jewish people.” According to cornerstone international documents, including several UN Security Council resolutions, such a take on the Holocaust is not accurate, the ministry insisted.

“It is important once again to draw attention to the fact that the Holocaust was the persecution and mass extermination of representatives of various ethnic and social groups by the Nazis. This is exactly how it is recorded in the most important international documents,” the ministry emphasized.

Russian diplomats also described as “puzzling” Halperin’s take on Moscow's efforts to ease the situation in the Middle East, namely the conflict between Hamas and Israel. The envoy claimed that Russia has been hosting “Hamas members” who purportedly had been “received in Moscow, hugged, with red carpets rolled out in front of them.”

“We cannot understand this. In Russia, they say that they are conducting these negotiations to free the hostages. But soon it’ll be four months as people are held hostage and they haven’t been released,” the diplomat asserted.

In response, the Russian ministry advised Halperin to “reach relatives of former hostages for further explanation” as to why Moscow has been maintaining contact with the political wing of the Palestinian group.

“It would be useful for the Israeli diplomat to learn firsthand what it was like for them to be held captive for almost two months and whether their release was worth our contacts with Hamas. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk to the relatives of Russian citizens still held in Gaza either,” it said, adding that Halperin should be addressing questions to her own government as to why hostages are still being held by Hamas.