Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his prime minister Dmitry Medvedev to Israel Wednesday, Nov. 9 as a gesture to mark the 25th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
It was not the only one: Almost his first action on arrival was a symbolic visit to the Western Wall, the eternal Jewish shrine in Jerusalem. Medvedev chose this gesture to underscore the comment he made last week: “Russia never denied Israel’s or the Jewish people’s rights in Jerusalem and in its holy sites, and the subject has been blown out of proportion.”
The Russian prime minister was therefore demonstrating Moscow’s recognition for Jewish rights in Israel, Jerusalem and its holy places – most of all Temple Mount – not just for the Palestinians. It was a message directed by the Kremlin to extremist Muslim organizations, which have set themselves the goal of “liberating Jerusalem from Israeli occupation.”
On the broader level, Putin through Medvedev was telling the world, and the US in particular, that Russia was ready to act as peacemaker between the Arab world and Israel, with greater flexibility on the Jerusalem question than Washington has exhibited.
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