Grand mufti Talgat Tajuddin meets Putin
Grand mufti Talgat Tajuddin has met with Vladimir Putin on a number of occasions Getty Images

The grand mufti of Russia has called on Vladimir Putin to annex Israel to resolve the Palestine conflict. Talgat Tadzhuddin told the World Culture of Bashirs conference in Ufa, Bashkortostan, that he had personally pushed for the move in a meeting with the Russian president.

"When discussing the issue of Syria, I suggested to Vladimir Putin to deal with Israel as the Crimea, but Vladimir refused," Tajuddin said at the November 21 conference, reports Yod News.

In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea province after Ukraine's pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovich president was ousted from power.

Tadzhuddin said that in the 4 November meeting Putin laughed the suggestion off as a joke, but he went on to press the Russian president to also annex Syria, where Russia has sent forces and launched air raids in support of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"Vladimir, perhaps with Syria and Israel we can proceed in the same way as with Crimea?" Tadzhuddin said he told the president, and even went on to say "suppose that Mecca will be Russian, it is the will of Allah to live together in peace, love and harmony".

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Tajuddin was making a joke.

A controversial figure, previously Tadzhuddin backed the Orthodox church's call for gay pride rallies in Moscow to be banned and declared a holy war against the US when it invaded Iraq in 2003.

There are an estimated 16 million Muslims in Russia, many of whom live in Russia's Central Asian Muslim Republics. Hundreds are believed to have joined extremist group Islamic State (Isis) in Syria.