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SOCHI, August 23. /TASS/. Israel supports Russia’s participation in the memorial project at the site of what was the Nazi death camp Sobibor in Poland, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
"We, including myself never forget the historical role Russia and the Soviet army played in the victory over Nazism," Netanyahu said.
"The Israeli parliament reaffirmed this just recently. As you know very well, Mr. President, this is the reason why I initiated the idea of erecting a special monument in Netanya commemorating the Liberator Soldier, the soldier of the Soviet army. You attended the inauguration of that monument. In that context Israel cannot oppose Russia’s participation in a very important project at the former concentration camp Sobibor."
Netanyahu recalled that the uprising at the Sobibor camp was led by a Soviet officer of Jewish descent. He thanked Putin for his personal decision to extend assistance to World War II veterans residing in Israel. "Holy cause," Putin remarked.
The death camp at Sobibor functioned from May 1942 to October 1943. According to different estimates 150,000 to 250,000 Jews from Poland and other European countries were put to death there.
The concentration camp ceased to exist after an uprising by its inmates led by Soviet officer Aleksandr Pechersky.
Russia was invited to join the project for the museum’s renovation in 2013, initiated by Poland, Israel, the Netherlands and Slovakia whose representatives have seats on the organizing committee. Russia accepted the invitation.
In July 2017 Warsaw said that the project’s International Steering Committee had excluded Russia from the list of participants.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow reacted with surprise to the news the Netherlands, Slovakia and Israel had changed their mind.
On June 26 the Israeli parliament approved in the third, final reading a bill on celebrating the day of victory over Nazi Germany. As follows from a statement published on the Knesset’s website, the day of victory over Nazis in World War II will be officially marked in Israel on May 9 and included in a list of public holidays.