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Israel denounces Lavrov’s Hitler comments as ‘unforgivable,’ summons Russian envoy

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Israel denounced on Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for suggesting that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots, and demanded an apology from Moscow.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Russian ambassador for “a tough talk” over the comments, which Lavrov made on Sunday in an interview with Italian television.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Lavrov had made “an unforgivable, scandalous statement.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Israel has sought to keep a delicate balance between the two sides, but remarks by the Russian foreign minister to an Italian channel sparked anger in Israel.

Moscow has previously said it wants to “de-militarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset in an interview released on Sunday, Lavrov claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish.”

Lavrov, according to a transcript posted on the Russian foreign ministry website, then added: “I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood.”

Lapid, in a statement from the foreign ministry on the “grave remarks”, condemned the comments.

“Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error,” Lapid said.

“Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism.”

Israel’s foreign ministry “has summoned the Russian Ambassador to Israel for a clarification meeting,” the statement added.

Dani Dayan, director of the Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, also criticised Lavrov's statement, calling them “unfounded, delusional and dangerous remarks which deserve to be condemned.”

In a speech at the end of March to the Israeli parliament, Zelenskyy called on Israel to “make a choice” by supporting Ukraine against Russia, and asked the Jewish state to provide it with weapons.

Demonstrators gather in support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion and watch Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech as it is broadcasted to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 20, 2022. (Reuters)
Demonstrators gather in support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion and watch Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech as it is broadcasted to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 20, 2022. (Reuters)

Israel has provided helmets and bulletproof vests to Ukrainian rescue workers, but has not recently supplied the country with weapons, Israeli officials say.

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