Israeli-US woman jailed in Russia is pardoned and allowed to return home as Benjamin Netanyahu visits Vladimir Putin in Moscow
- Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin on Thursday
- Israeli PM came to pitch Russian president on Trump’s Middle East peace plan
- Comes a day after Russia released Israeli woman jailed for drug smuggling
- Naama Issachar, 26, was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for possession of cannabis last year, but has now been given a pardon by Putin
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday in order to pitch the Russian President on Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan and take a jailed Israeli citizen home.
Netanyahu said he would like to hear Putin’s ‘insights’ on Trump’s plan, which has caused outrage among Palestinians, as the pair sat down for talks in Moscow.
The meeting comes a day after Putin signed a presidential pardon for 26-year-old Israeli Naama Issachar, who was jailed in Russia last year for possession of cannabis, as a show of good faith.
Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Moscow on Thursday to meet with President Putin and to escort Israeli citizen Naama Issachar, 26 (left and right), back home after she was released
Netanyahu also came to pitch Putin on Trump’s Middle East peace plan, saying he would like ‘insights’ from the Russian leader
Issachar was caught with nine grams of the drug in her bag during a stop-over at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow while flying from India back to Israel.
She was initially charged with drug possession, which typically carries a one-month sentence in Russia, but that was later upgraded to drug smuggling and she was jailed for seven and a half years.
Putin asked Netanyahu to give his regards to Issachar and her mother.
‘I would like to thank you on behalf of all the people of Israel for granting a pardon to Naama Issachar,’ Netanyahu said. ‘We are all touched by this.’
Israeli officials believe Issachar’s charges were upgraded as retaliation after Israel extradited hacker Aleksey Burkov, 29, of St. Petersburg, to America.
Issachar was catching a connecting flight in Moscow as she travelled from India to Israel in April last year when police discovered nine grams of cannabis in her bag
Issachar was initially charged with drug possession but the charge was later increased to drug smuggling, and she was jailed for seven years
Netanyahu thanked Putin for granting Issachar a pardon, while the Russian leader asked for his regards to be given to her family
Russia has never formally linked the two cases. Burkov has since pleaded guilty to running a website linked to $20million of credit card fraud at a court in Virginia.
Since the dispute, Israel has been working to repair relations with Russia – siding with Putin’s Orthodox allies over who controls Alexander Courtyard in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Netanyahu came to Moscow after visiting Washington where President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan on Tuesday.
Trump’s plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel.
It sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.
Netanyahu has described Trump’s plan for the Middle East as ‘the deal of the century’, though Palestinians have vowed to fight against it
Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin as they sat down for talks in the Kremlin that he wants to discuss the plan and hear his opinion about it.
‘You are the first leader I am speaking with after my visit in Washington for Trump’s Deal of the Century,’ he said.
‘I think there is a new opportunity here, maybe even unique opportunity, and I’d like to discuss it with you and hear your insights.’
Trump called his plan a ‘win-win’ for both Israel and the Palestinians, and urged the Palestinians not to miss their opportunity for independence.
But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plan as ‘nonsense’ and vowed to resist it.