Israeli opposition leader Lapid says Russia’s siding with Hamas will be ‘difficult to forgive’

Russia’s alliance with Iran and related ties with Hamas are “unforgivable,” said Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Vesti published on Jan. 30.

Israel has largely avoided taking sides in Russia’s war against Ukraine and has not provided any meaningful military aid to Ukraine. It has a long-standing relationship with Russia, complicated by the significant Russian diaspora in Israel.

There is also a large Ukrainian diaspora in Israel, and the two countries have a visa-free regime and other diplomatic ties.

Israel’s relations with Russia have increasingly deteriorated since the beginning of the war with Hamas in October 2023. In a harsh critique of Israel’s actions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Israel’s bombing campaign against Hamas in Gaza goes against international humanitarian law.

Ukraine and Israel also share a common foe, Iran, which has supplied weapons to Russia and continues to fund Hamas and other militant groups battling Israel.

There has also been speculation that Russia was more directly linked to Hamas’ attack on Israel in October 2023, which killed around 1,200 Israelis and launched the still ongoing war.

“It is clear that Russia needs Iran today more than ever,” said Lapid, a former foreign minister of Israel and current head of the Israeli opposition.

“And the further (Russia commits to its war in Ukraine), the more it depends on the supply of Iranian weapons, thereby turning into a link in the axis of evil.”

While “states do not break off relations just like that, but they also do not forgive in the event of such an insult,” Lapid said, referring to Russia’s alliance with Iran.

“There is no doubt that the country’s leadership must reconsider its position towards Russia,” Lapid said.

“The things voiced by Lavrov and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, the way they unequivocally sided with Hamas, calling it a legitimate organization… Israel will find it difficult to forgive Russia and its leadership for the position they have taken for a very long time,” he added.

Lapid acknowledged that some semblance of relations with Russia would need to be maintained for “strategic reasons,” but said that the close ties previously seen between the two countries will not be seen again for some time.

Read also: Ukraine sides with Israel. How will it affect Kyiv’s relations with Arab world, Global South?

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