JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday (May 5) that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had apologised for remarks made by Moscow’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, who claimed Adolf Hitler may have had “Jewish blood”.
The comments had sparked outrage in the Jewish state.
“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,” Bennett’s office said in a statement.
A Kremlin summary of the Bennett-Putin call, which came as Israel marked 74 years since the creation of the Jewish state, made no mention of a Putin apology.
It did, however, note that the leaders discussed the “historic memory” of the holocaust.
In an interview with an Italian media outlet released on Sunday, Lavrov claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “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”.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid labelled the comments “an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error.”
Bennett denounced the comments as “lies” that he said effectively “accuse the Jews themselves of the most awful crimes in history”, perpetrated against themselves.
Russia’s ambassador to Israel was summoned to “clarify” the remarks.