Naama Issachar, just released on a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday evening.
Her first comment to reporters after landing was: “Thank you to everyone. I’m still in shock from the entire situation.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who escorted Issachar home on his plane after a meeting with Putin at the Kremlin, said that “Naama was very excited. It’s indescribable. It was the first time she went outside and saw trees, saw the sky,” since she was jailed ten months ago on drug charges.
PM Netanyahu said the visit to Russia this week would have taken place in any case, that he did not fly there in order to bring Issachar back with him, and would have made the visit even if she hadn’t been freed, according to Ynet.
The reason for the trip to Russia, he said, was to update Putin on the Trump peace plan. Russia has so far given no official reaction.
The prime minister noted that Issachar’s case cast a cloud over Israeli-Russian relations.
“The ties with [Russia] are strategic, first and foremost. We cultivate the ties with Russia to prevent a military clash in the region and therefore the [Issachar] crisis could darken the entire relationship,” he was quoted saying by the Walla news site.
Putin and Netanyahu mentioned Issachar in remarks to the press ahead of their meeting in the Kremlin.
“You asked us to pardon an Israeli citizen who was arrested with drugs in her bag,” Putin said. “I emphasize the role of her mother and the [Russian Orthodox] Patriarch [of Yerushalayim]. Please tell her I wish her and her family well.”
Netanyahu thanked Putin in the name of all Israelis for releasing her.