By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 23 January, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Putin in Jerusalem on Thursday and discussed with him several issues, including the release of Na’ama Issachar, the Israeli jailed in Russia for a minor drug offense.
Putin is in Israel together with 45 global leaders and royals to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Yaffa, Na’ama Issachar’s mother, joined the meeting the two leaders towards its end.
Netanyahu stated after the session that they “have just concluded an excellent working meeting.”
“At its conclusion, President Putin asked to bring in Yaffa, Na’ama Issachar’s mother. This was a very moving meeting. I am very grateful to you for this gesture, my friend the President,” he told Putin.
Putin added that after meeting Na’ama’s mother, “it is clear that Naama comes from a very good family.”
“The Prime Minister’s position is known to me – to decide appropriately. All of this will be taken into account when a decision is made,” he stated cryptically.
He promised that Na’ama will meet today “with the person responsible for maintaining human rights in Russia.”
“Her mother was very moving and supports her daughter. I said to her and I will say it again – everything will be alright,” he concluded.
While it is unclear what the practical meaning of Putin’s statement is, Israeli officials expressed optimism about the prospects of Issachar’s release in the near future.
Another issue the remains shrouded in secrecy is the price Israel will pay in return for her release.
Officials close to Netanyahu credited the “significant progress” towards Issachar’s release to the “close and personal relationship” between Netanyahu and Putin.
Netanyahu spoke to Putin seven times about Issachar’s release, and along with conversations held between Israeli and Russian officials, the issue was raised about 20 times since Issachar’s arrest on April 9 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, where she had stopped for a connecting flight to Tel Aviv from New Delhi. Russian authorities found 9.5 grams of cannabis in her luggage and arrested her.
Netanyahu spoke on Thursday with Putin about Issachar’s release and expressed “optimism that the issue of the release of Naama Issachar is advancing towards a solution.”
Netanyahu called Putin at the end of December to discuss foreign policy and request Naama’s release.
This was the 14th meeting Netanyahu and Putin have held since September 2015.