Putin pardons Israeli 'drug trafficker' as Netanyahu visits Moscow over 'Deal of the Century'

Putin pardons Israeli 'drug trafficker' as Netanyahu visits Moscow over 'Deal of the Century'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is travelling to Moscow to discuss Donald Trump's shambolic 'Deal of the Century'.
2 min read
30 January, 2020
Naama Issachar [far left] with Benjamin Netanyahu [Getty]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pardoned a woman who was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for drug trafficking ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the Russian capital to discuss the contested "Deal of the Century."

Naama Issachar was arrested in April at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities found that she was carrying more than nine grams of hashish in her luggage.

The 26-year-old was pardoned by Putin mere hours before Netanyahu touched down in Moscow.

Isaachar, who was born in New Jersey had been serving her sentence in a prison outside the city when she received the pardon.

“I thank my friend President Putin for pardoning Naama Issachar,” Netanyahu said in response.

Read More: Russia aims to become a major arms trader in the Middle East again

“I look forward to our meeting tomorrow in which we will discuss the deal of the century and the latest developments in the region.

The Israeli foreign ministry had called Issachar’s sentence “harsh and disproportionate”.

Naama was arrested in Russia when she was transiting [Getty]

President Reuven Rivlin expressed joy over Putin's decision to pardon Issachar. "I'm so happy to get the news about Naama. I would like to thank Putin for the compassion and wisdom he showed by taking the decision to pardon Naama."

A senior inter-ministerial team official said Israel did not sign a deal with Russia for the woman’s release, and that the release was made “as a gesture by President Vladimir Putin to Netanyah”.

Russia has been quiet about Trump's new deal, which has been rejected by Palestinian leaders and human rights organisations, as well as international leaders, Turkey and Iran to name but a few countries.

The deal would effectively allow Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank, and would be a violation of international law. 

In response to the deal, Russia released a statement urging Israelis and Palestinians to “negotiate directly” but said little else.

Later, Russian Abassador for the United Nations Vaily Nebenzya reminded Washington that the Golan Heights belongs to Syria, not Palestine. 

“Yesterday, Washington published its vision for a settlement in the Middle East,” he said.

“We could not help but notice that the maps included in the plan defined the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.”

He was clear about the new map. “In this connection, we would like to remind the ‘geographer’ who created this map that we and Security Council Resolution 496 do not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.”

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