Israeli Official: Russia to Release Issachar as Gesture to Netanyahu

YERUSHALAYIM -
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, in 2019. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)

An Israeli official said Wednesday that Russia will release Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from prison imminently.

The official said that the release was the result of a Russian goodwill gesture toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

President Vladimir Putin, who has the final say on a pardon for Issachar, has yet to publicly announce a decision on her fate.

The 26-year-old was arrested in April at a Moscow airport, where she was transferring en route from India to Israel. Russian authorities said more than nine grams of contraband were found in her luggage. She was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

Netanyahu, currently in Washington, is set to fly to the Russian capital later Wednesday, where he is expected to secure Issachar’s release on Thursday and fly her back to Israel.

He is also set to brief Putin on the details of the U.S. peace plan.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “at this moment we can only state that the plan was fully supported by Israel, it received support from a number of other nations, but was met with strict denial from the directly involved party of this so-called deal — the Palestinians.

“We continue to analyze the situation,” he added.

Meanwhile, Israeli news sources report that Netanyahu will fly to Uganda on Monday, just days after returning from diplomatic trips in the U.S. and Russia.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not confirm or deny the report.

Netanyahu visited Uganda in 2016 to mark 40 years since his brother Yoni, Hy”d, was killed in an anti-terror raid at an airport in Entebbe.