Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon; Hassan Jedi / Flash90
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Last Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said: “The situation in the Middle East was the focus of a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh.”

The Ukrainian embassy in Israel responded, saying, “the leader of the terrorist organization Hamas met with the Russian Foreign Minister to discuss mutual ties. Only a country that murders thousands of children, women, and men under the pretext that they are ‘liberating their citizens’ can host a terrorist organization leader of the first rank. The world must not sit idly by and watch all this madness from the sidelines. It’s time to start acting and not just talking.”


Ukraine officially recognized the State of Palestine on November 19, 1988. The embassy should probably say something about that.

According to the Russians, “Key attention was paid to the development of the situation in the Middle East region with a focus on the Palestinian problem. The Russian side stressed the importance of the soonest restoration of the Palestinian national unity of the political platforms of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the necessity to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the generally recognized basis of international law, which rests on the corresponding resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, and the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Later that day, the Hamas delegation held consultations with the Russian presidential envoy for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

The Hamas delegation’s visit, and the fact that Minister Lavrov agreed to see Haniyeh personally suggest a sea change in the relationship between the two sides. For one thing, until this week, Hamas, like the Palestinian Authority, remained silent on the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian move is probably yet another “in your face” gesture on the part of the Kremlin, rejecting the broad consensus of the civilized world on Hamas. In September 2001, the European Union listed Hamas as a terrorist group. Canada followed suit in 2002. In 2021, the United Kingdom declared Hamas a terrorist organization, and New Zealand designated Hamas’ armed wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades as a “terrorist entity.” In March 2022, Australia classified Hamas as a terrorist group.

According to a 2014 Ynet report, Haniyeh is a millionaire, having made his fortune from the 20% tax Hamas charges all items entering through the smuggling tunnels from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. In July 2014, Haniyeh’s eldest son was arrested by Egyptian authorities at the Rafah Border Crossing with several million dollars on his person.

By the way, Haniyeh’s sisters, Kholidia, Laila, and Sabah, are Israeli citizens and live in the Bedouin town of Tel as-Sabi in southern Israel. He should come visit.

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