Israeli FM Ashkenazi Thanks Russia for Role in World War II, Unveils Holocaust Memorial
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday took part in the unveiling ceremony of a Holocaust memorial in Moscow, to remember the more than two and a half million Jews murdered on Soviet soil by the Nazis and in memory of 200,000 Red Army Jewish soldiers who perished on the battlefields.
Speaking during an official visit in Moscow, Ashkenazi — the son of a Holocaust survivor who was rescued thanks to the soldiers of the Red Army — said that he was proud to say that the Jewish community feels welcome in the country.
“We remember the central role of the Russian army in World War II and their liberation of extermination camps throughout Europe, and we will remain eternally grateful for this,” Ashkenazi said.
During the visit, Ashkenazi met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and the two discussed bilateral ties between the countries, security issues in the region, and options for cooperation in the economic and health fields, including the joint fight against the coronavirus.
“Russia is a key player in the Middle East and plays a significant and important role in regional stability. We deeply appreciate the position of President Vladimir Putin and that of the leadership of the Russian Federation in its support of Israel, and the public commitment to Israel’s security that has been expressed repeatedly in various forums,” said Ashkenazi, as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“A fruitful dialogue based on common interests and cooperation on issues of national security has been conducted between Israel and Russia in recent years. I see great importance in this dialogue between us,” he added.
On the agenda of the Moscow trip was also the recent decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem since 2014.
In a tweet, Ashkenazi said that he talked with Lavrov about Israel’s position regarding the “outrageous decision” of the ICC and its implications for renewing the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Several weeks ago, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague published her unfortunate decision to open an investigation against Israel. I hope the whole issue is off the Court’s agenda,” Ashkenazi said.