In a rare move on Monday, Israel voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution that voiced “grave concern over the progressive militarization of Crimea” and urged Moscow to “end its temporary occupation of Ukraine’s territory.”
The resolution was approved by a vote of 66-19, with 72 abstentions.
The vote came less than two weeks after Russia voted against a US-drafted UN General Assembly resolution condemning Hamas. The motion failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Crimea voted for reunification with Russia in 2014, following deep political changes in Kiev where a pro-Western movement staged weeks of street protests that led to the ouster of the pro-Russia government.
People in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula mainly populated by ethnic Russians, effectively refused to endorse the new administration in Kiev and decided to separate from Ukraine and rejoin the Russian federation in the 2014 referendum.
The West and Kiev view the reunification as annexation of the territory by Russia. Moscow, however, strongly dismisses the allegation.
Israel’s anti-Moscow vote came less than two weeks after Russia had voted against a US-drafted UN General Assembly resolution condemning Hamas for a recent wave of violence in Gaza initiated by Tel Aviv. The motion failed to muster the two-thirds majority
Ties between Moscow and Tel Aviv have been tense since Russia’s delivery of the S-300 missile defense system to Syria following the September downing of a Russian aircraft during an Israeli airstrike.
Russia has blamed Israel for the incident, which killed 15 Russian crew members. The Defense Ministry has said Israeli jets used the Russian plane as cover to attack Syria.
Israel is also unhappy with Russia’s cooperation with Iran in the fight against the Takfiri militants Tel Aviv supports in Syria.
Tel Aviv has repeatedly asked Moscow to have Iran withdraw its military advisors from the regions near the occupied side of Syria.
Russia, however, praises Iran’s crucial role in counter-terrorism efforts in Syria, saying Tehran’s presence in the war-torn country – like that of Moscow -- is legal under international law and thus it cannot be forced out.