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Russia accuses Israel of using Ukraine as 'distraction' from Palestine issue

Moscow condemns Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for backing its suspension from the UN Human Rights Council
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the vote to suspend Russia did not change Israel's opinion of the UN Human Rights Council as "a radical, morally flawed, biased and anti-Israeli body" (AFP)

Russia condemned Israel on Friday for its "anti-Russian" remarks after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid defended his country's vote to suspend Moscow from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Russia's foreign ministry described Lapid's statement as "regrettable" and accused Israel of using the Ukraine conflict as a distraction to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

"We have taken note of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid's aggressive statement," the Russian foreign ministry said, according to the Russian-backed Tass news agency. 

"The Israeli Foreign Minister's statements evoke regret and rejection. There was a poorly camouflaged attempt to take advantage of the situation in Ukraine to distract the international community's attention from one of the oldest unsettled conflicts - the Palestine-Israeli one." 

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Moscow also condemned Israel for its occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which it noted was backed by the United States. 

"It is also noteworthy that... the longest occupation in the post-war world history is carried out with the tacit connivance of the leading Western countries and the actual support of the United States,” the Russian statement said.

Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reports of "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" in Ukraine, prompting Moscow to announce it was quitting the body.

Lapid said the "killing of innocent civilians" was why Israel had voted to suspend Russia from the council. 

However, Lapid stressed that the vote did not change Israel's opinion of the UN Human Rights Council as "a radical, morally flawed, biased and anti-Israeli body".