Although Israel has officially condemned the invasion, accused Russia of war crimes and sent aircraft loads of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has so far refrained from fully adhering to Western sanctions against Russia, mainly due to its own concerns about the safety.
But the comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov struck a nerve. On Sunday, Putin’s senior diplomat tried to justify Moscow’s absurd goal of “de-Nazifying” Ukraine – an unfounded representation of the country, led by a Jewish president – by claiming that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood” and that “the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews”.
The Russian ambassador to Israel has been summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry for talks. Bennett called the claims “lies” and Lapid described them as “unforgivable and outrageous”, warning that Israel had “tried to maintain good relations with Russia, but there is a line, and this time the line has been crossed” .
“Jews did not kill themselves during the Holocaust,” added Lapid. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews of anti-Semitism themselves.”
As the bickering deepens, Israeli leaders are facing increasing pressure to strengthen their stance against Moscow.
Israel routinely carries out airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria, which it considers essential to prevent the transfer of precision-guided missile technology to the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Israel coordinates with the Russians ahead of the attacks in Syria, and there are fears that if relations with Moscow tighten, Israel’s freedom of action in Syria, something Israel considers vital to its security, will also fail.
Israeli officials also expressed concern that any Israeli action against Ukraine could endanger the large Jewish population in Russia.
Bennett had also tried to act as a mediator, speaking regularly with both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Putin, and even secretly flying to Moscow for direct talks with the Russian leader.
Then there is Iran: Russia is part of the negotiations to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. Israel opposes the deal and is pulling every possible lever to prevent it from returning, and Bennett’s office said it talking about it with Putin during his clandestine trip to Moscow.
While the latest flurry between Russia and Israel is definitely straining relations, analysts note that so far most of Israel’s wrath has centered on Lavrov and his foreign ministry, not Putin.
An Israeli official defended the government’s approach to Russia, saying Israel did not have the legal framework to impose sanctions on another country. Despite this, the official told CNN that Israeli institutions were still moving to comply with US sanctions against Moscow by implementing what the official described as “silent sanctions”.
Although Israeli media began reporting on Tuesday that Israeli officials are preparing to send defensive military equipment to Ukraine for the first time, Alon Pinkas, former Israeli consul general in New York and chief of staff of former Israeli president Shimon Peres , does not think that much will change.
“If there is going to be a change in politics it is the relative awareness that Israel has essentially sided with the losing side in this conflict, not because of atrocities, war crimes, invasion, what you have, but because you are essentially siding with the underdog. and there is a price to pay, “Pinkas told CNN.
However, that could change if the situation escalates to the point that the Israeli ambassador is expelled from Russia, for example, Pinkas said.
“So, in which case Israel has no choice but to step away from its policy and adopt a new one,” Pinkas said. “But what if the Russians don’t do it and this is just a rhetorical war of words that will disappear in two days? Then nothing fundamental has changed.”
Venezuela and Iran, both under US sanctions, to “collaborate on energy”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with Iranian oil minister Javad Owji on Tuesday to “deepen the bonds of brotherhood and cooperation in energy matters,” as Maduro said.
- Background: Iran and Venezuela are both subject to US sanctions and have recently strengthened their oil relations. Iranian state TV reported that Owji led a delegation of more than a dozen officials “on a visit deemed significant for Iran-Venezuela relations and efforts to neutralize the impact of US sanctions.”
- Because matter: The visit comes as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers face a stalemate. A deal would lift sanctions on Iran’s energy exports and ease the rally in global oil prices. Iran has sent several shipments of gasoline to Venezuela in the past two years, according to Press TV.
The death of an Egyptian researcher requires investigation, says the US State Department
The US State Department said Monday that the death of an Egyptian researcher requires a “thorough, transparent and credible investigation”, adding that the United States is “deeply troubled” by “allegations of torture in detention”.
- Background: Egyptian economic researcher Ayman Hadhoud was arrested by local security services in February, who then sent him to a psychiatric hospital in Cairo, where he died. Human rights group Amnesty International said the results of his investigation suggested torture or other ill-treatment before his death. Egyptian prosecutors said they found no evidence of criminal violence in the researcher’s death, according to Reuters.
- Because matter: The Biden administration withheld $ 130 million in military aid from Egypt in January for human rights issues, but days earlier it approved the potential sale of air defense radars and aircraft for more than $ 2.5 billion. The United States has repeatedly affirmed “the importance of human rights” in dialogue with Egypt, but the nation remains a strategic security partner for both the United States and its regional allies.
Turkey announces the plan for the return of one million Syrian refugees
Turkey is preparing a project to persuade nearly one million Syrian refugees to voluntarily return to Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday. He did not explain how to persuade refugees to return.
- Background: Turkey is home to nearly 4 million Syrian refugees and has the largest refugee population of any other country, according to the United Nations. The nation’s currency slipped lower, causing record inflation. Opposition figures attributed the economic woes in part to refugees, and social media saw growing anti-refugee sentiment.
- Because matter: The announcement comes ahead of next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections as Erdogan’s immigration policy is subject to criticism from opposition parties. Turkish officials, including Erdogan, said the country is unable to handle the entry of more refugees.
What to watch
Before the war in Ukraine, the Egyptian economy was recovering relatively quickly, Jihad Azour, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, Jihad Azour, told CNN. But his reliance on Ukraine from Russia for grain imports and tourism means the recovery has suffered, he said.
Watch the interview here.
Around the region
Iran’s strict alcohol laws often force those who cannot afford to buy expensive smuggled drinks to resort to the consumption of home-grown varieties produced without regulation and with little experience.
Fifty-nine people suffered from alcohol poisoning in the city, said Fatemeh Norouzian, a spokesman for Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences, by IRNA. Seventeen of the hospitalized patients are in critical condition, he added, with four suffering from “severe blurred vision.”
The consumption of alcohol is prohibited by Iranian Islamic law and its consumption can be punished with public flogging, which is rarely performed.
Only members of religious minorities such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians can make alcohol and drink it, as long as this is done in private.
Despite the ban, alcohol consumption is widespread in the country behind closed doors and among the rich.
By Nadeen Ebrahim