With the release of Naama Issachar thought to be imminent, Israeli officials have asked her family to refrain from giving interviews or making any protest against her imprisonment in Russia, which could adversely affect her case.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive in Yerushalayim for a Holocast conference on Thursday, and it is hoped he will announce a pardon for the Israeli-American who was jailed for 7.5 year on possession of an illegal substance, according to Channel 12 on Sunday.
However, Issachar “would not likely be on the plane with Putin,” the report said.
Putin is scheduled for a one-day visit and will hold private meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Issachar’s mother Yaffa has publicly accused the Russians of a travesty of justice and has threatened to physically disrupt Putin’s visit with Rivlin to protest her daughter’s treatment, though she has since said she will not make such a scene.
On Friday, Netanyahu said: “I spoke yesterday with President Putin about Naama [Issachar]. I felt that he showed a real willingness to find a solution,” adding that he was “much more optimistic.”
“I can’t give details, but we will continue to do all we can to bring Naama home, and until then will continue to support her and her family,” he said.
According to Channel 12, there is a quid pro quo involved. In exchange for the pardon, Israel has been asked to give some “backing” for the Russian narrative about the causes of World War II, which has lately been the subject of an acrimonious debate with Poland, and it could be that Netanyahu will say something about it in his speech at the Holocaust conference to appease Putin.
A senior Israeli official said that “what Israel would provide would not her hurt [Issachar], but is important to Putin,” according to the report.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials were keeping the pressure on. Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) flew to Moscow on Wednesday for meetings with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov and Putin’s Middle East adviser, Mikhail Bogdanov.
“I met with my friend the Russian deputy foreign minister, and asked him to recommend to President Putin pardoning Naama Issachar for humanitarian reasons,” Gamliel wrote in an online statement afterwards.
“The correct way to return Naama is by way of a request for a good humanitarian gesture as part of our deep friendship with Russia,” Gamliel wrote.