Israeli Woman Who Was Jailed in Russia and Pardoned by Putin Lands in Israel

An Israeli-American woman jailed in Russia over drug charges in a high-profile case landed in Israel on Thursday, ending a months-long saga between the two countries. 

"I just want to say thank you," Naama Issachar, who was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, told reporters upon landing. "I am still in shock from the whole situation, but I am grateful for everything."

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The prime minister told reporters during the flight to Israel that Israeli officials had taken special interest in her release of Naama Issachar, because there was a danger to strategic relations with Russia.

'Why did we intervene in her case and not others? Because our relationship with Russia is crucial strategically," Netanyahu said, "a military clash in Syria with Russian forces would be a disaster. And there were other issues at hand too, including the barring of Russian tourists from entering Israel and the Burkov affair. This required our intervention," he added.

Issachar’s reception at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel, January 30, 2020Moti Milrod

Netanyahu arrived in Moscow Thursday morning, and met with Vladimir Putin, before bringing Issachar back to Israel on the official plane. 

The visit, just over a month before Israel's March 2 election, "signals further rapprochement in our relations," Netanyahu said. He told reporters that he had the opportunity to discuss Donald Trump's Middle East peace proposal, unveiled on Tuesday, with the Russian leader, as well as the situation in Syria. 

Twenty-six-year-old Naama Issachar was sentenced for seven and a half years in prison last year, but was granted pardon on Wednesday by Russian President Vladmir Putin, after serving ten months.