Israel’s First Official Response to Ukraine Crisis

Government statement stops short of condemning Russia, as America and Europe have now done

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Ukraine, Russia
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow late last year. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO

Israel held off as long as it could. The Jewish state has been walking a tightrope in regards to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. But now that all it’s western allies are taking a side, Jerusalem apparently felt it was time to say something.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has thus far forbidden his cabinet ministers from publicly commenting on the situation, though some couldn’t help themselves, remarking last week that if push comes to shove, Israel will side with America. So the statement out of Jerusalem on Wednesday was the first official communique regarding the crisis, and comes a day after the United States and the European Union slapped sanctions on Russia for effectively invading eastern Ukraine.

Israel refrained from joining the chorus of voices against Russia, and instead stressed the need to protect Ukraine’s Jewish community and offered itself as a diplomatic arbiter.

“Israel shares the international concern over the steps in eastern Ukraine and the severe escalation in the region, and hopes that a diplomatic solution will be found that will lead to calm. Israel stands ready to mobilize in this regard if asked to do so,” read the statement.

“The State of Israel is also concerned for the well-being of thousands of Israeli citizens living in Ukraine and its large Jewish community. Israel is prepared to provide Ukraine with immediate humanitarian assistance in accordance with the needs that arise,” it continued.

Israel remains wary of upsetting Moscow given the delicate situation in neighboring Syria, where Russian forces continue to prop up the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad. Israel needs the Russians to continue turning a blind eye to Israeli strikes on Syria’s other ally, Iran, which has also flooded the war-torn country with its own forces and proxies.

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