Putin apologises to Israeli PM for Lavrov’s claim that Hitler 'had Jewish blood'

The comments sparked outrage across Israel


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint press conference with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President following their talks in Moscow on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's apology after his foreign minister claimed that Hitler “had Jewish blood”.

Sergei Lavrov sparked outrage in Israel and around the world with the remarks on Sunday, made while trying to justify Russia's labelling of Ukraine as “Nazi", despite its president being Jewish.

Israel had demanded an apology and summoned Russia’s ambassador for “clarification” of the comments that Israel’s foreign minister called “unforgivable”.

Mr Lavrov made the comments on Sunday on an Italian TV program just days after Israel marked Holocaust Memorial Day.

When asked how Russia can claim that it is seeking to “de-Nazify” Ukraine when President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish, Mr Lavrov said: "I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood.

“[That Zelensky is Jewish] means absolutely nothing. Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

The remarks triggered furious condemnation from across Israel's political spectrum, with Prime Minister Bennett saying at the time: "Such lies are meant to blame the Jews themselves for the most terrible crimes in history and thus free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility.

"No war today is the Holocaust or is like the Holocaust."

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Bennett confirmed that he has accepted President Putin’s apology for the remarks.

The statement reads: “The two discussed Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks. 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.”

The two leaders also discussed the ongoing crisis in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol that has been under sustained attack from Russian forces for weeks: “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.

“President Putin promised to allow the evacuation of civilians, including wounded civilians, through a UN and Red Cross humanitarian corridor.”

The statement added: “Prime Minister Bennett thanked President Putin for his wishes on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day of the State of Israel.”

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