Russia has slammed Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid for accusing Moscow of committing war crimes in Ukraine, saying Israel is using the military operation in the former Soviet state to “distract” the world from the regime’s ongoing conflict with Palestinians.
In a statement on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Lapid of an “anti-Russian attack” after Israel backed Moscow’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last week, criticizing the Tel Aviv regime for “the illegal occupation and creeping annexation of Palestinian territories.”
“There is an effort to take advantage of the situation around Ukraine to distract the international community from one of the longest unresolved conflicts — the Palestinian-Israeli,” the ministry said.
“It is also noteworthy that… the longest occupation in the post-war world history is carried out with the tacit connivance of the leading Western countries and the actual support of the United States,” it added.
The ministry further bashed the blockade of the besieged Gaza Strip, which Israel says is needed to prevent arms from reaching the Palestinian resistance movements in the enclave.
On April 7, the UN General Assembly suspended Russia from the UNHRC over claims of "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" in Ukraine.
The resolution, proposed by the US, received 93 votes, with 24 members opposed and 58 abstaining.
Moscow denounced the UNGA decision and rejected accusations of human rights violations against it as “Western propaganda”.
The decision makes Moscow the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to ever have its membership revoked from any UN-related body.
It was not clear what specifically Lapid said following the April 7 vote to draw Moscow’s ire.
However, Israeli foreign ministry in a statement at the time denounced the “unjustified invasion” of Ukraine and accused Russian forces of “killing innocent civilians.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military offensive against Ukraine on February 24. The conflict has provoked a unanimous response from Western countries, which have imposed a long list of sanctions on Moscow. Russia says it will halt the operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow’s list of demands, including never applying to join NATO.
Since the start of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, the General Assembly has adopted two resolutions denouncing Moscow.
The US announced earlier that it would seek Russia’s suspension after Ukraine accused Russian of violating human rights in the town of Bucha.
Russia has denied killing civilians in Bucha. UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said last week that while Russia got control of Bucha, “not a single civilian suffered from any kind of violence.”