If Russia invades Ukraine and the United States and other Western powers respond with sanctions, whose side will Israel take? We’ve already written about how this is a sticky topic for Israel, given its warm relations and strategic reliance on both Russia and Ukraine, not to mention that both countries still host sizable Jewish populations.
But if push comes to shove, high-ranking Israeli officials this week said it’s obvious that the Jewish state will take the side of America.
Whether or not that means Israel would take part in sanctions against Russia, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid didn’t clarify in an interview with Channel 12 News. He did stress however that “it is natural for Israel to stand with the United States.”
The chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Ram Ben-Barak, added in remarks to Radio 103FM: “Do we join the sanctions against Russia? We’re in a difficult position, and I hope it doesn’t come to that But in the end, if we ever have to choose a side, we will choose the American side.”
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli likewise told the radio station that “it’s obvious” Israel would go with the US in this and any other crisis situation.
Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai told Channel 12 that he wished his fellow government ministers had adhered to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s instructions to not publicly comment on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. But now that they have, he expounded:
“Obviously in this story our heart is on one side – with the Americans. We try, and I think succeeded, to maneuver between all the forces operating here without taking a clear public position in hopes that this crisis will end without a military confrontation.
“But we know where we stand on the international map. The history of the State of Israel and the United States are closely intertwined and our values and interests align. Our heart is in the direction of the United States.”