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Putin Upbeat amid Possible Israeli-Russian Exchange Deal

Putin Upbeat amid Possible Israeli-Russian Exchange Deal

Thursday, 23 January, 2020 - 12:00
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters file photo
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat

The Israeli authorities expected an exchange deal between the Israeli government and its Russian counterpart on Thursday in the attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Through this deal, Russia will recover the Russian Compound in Jerusalem in return for the release of Naama Issachar, an Israeli woman who is in prison after being convicted of possessing cannabis in her luggage at Moscow Airport.


Political sources said the deal’s clauses remain unclear. However, they said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was optimistic regarding the possible swap.


According to a political source, the deal was finalized during the meeting in Moscow between Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov and Israeli Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel and another round of talks in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.


The Russian Compound consists of the Holy Trinity Cathedral and several buildings. It was constructed during the reign of Alexander III in 1864 in Jerusalem to serve as a hotel that shelters Russian pilgrims visiting sacred lands in Palestine.


The British mandate authorities transferred it into a center for police and intelligence. The Israeli occupation later turned it into a prison camp and a place for questioning and torturing Palestinians.


Israeli sources expected Issachar to be released after Putin met her mother in Jerusalem on Thursday.


Putin reassured Yaffa Issachar, but stopped short of announcing her daughter’s release.


Putin was among dozens of world leaders in Jerusalem to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.


Standing next to Putin, Netanyahu thanked the Russian leader for meeting the woman's mother.


"It was a very moving meeting," he said. "I thank you very much for the gesture, my friend, the president."


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