Left-wing Israeli politicians complained on Thursday about how, in their view, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took advantage of the release of Naama Issachar from a Russian prison.
While they welcomed her release, they said she should have been allowed to return home on her own, not on Netanyahu’s plane.
“I have nothing against Naama Issachar, who became a hostage to the power plays of Putin,” former Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said. “But this is not the first time that Netanyahu uses the state’s resources to get re-elected.”
Dismissing media reports of an unnamed official who insisted that there was no quid pro quo, and Putin’s pardon was purely a gesture for his friend the Israeli prime minister, Gal-On added:
“And I would like to know which specific resources were promised to the Russians in return for this little photo-op. If anyone thinks that Naama was freed merely as a gesture to Netanyahu, I have a used prime minister to sell you.”
Prior to the pardon, there were media reports alleging that Israel had agreed to turn over a church property in Yerushalayim to Russia, settling a matter of dispute for a number of years.
Labor faction chairman Itzik Shmuli said Netanyahu deserved praise for his efforts to bring about Issachar’s release, but should be criticized for his “cynical political move that he made on Naama’s back.”
As for the impromptu trip to Russia directly after the publication of the Trump peace plan in Washington, Netanyahu was quoted by Ynet as saying he would have gone to see Putin whether Issachar had been released or not, to brief him on the details of the plan.