Israel balancing its ties with Kyiv, Moscow

February 28, 2022 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened the Cabinet on Sunday evening and led a two-hour discussion on the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the situation for Israel, including the diplomatic and economic aspects, the absorption of immigrants, and other issues.

Naftali Bennett

Diplomatically, Israel will attempt to maintain its seemingly neutral line and keep a low profile by showing some support for Ukraine and aligning with the West while trying not to anger Moscow, with which it has ties and with which it coordinates its military actions against terror targets inside Syria. Israel has issued a weak condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing it of “a serious violation of international order” but not of international law.

Israel has yet to level any kind of sanctions against Russia. However, Israel will support a resolution condemning Russia at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Bennett said earlier in the day that his government is “conducting a measured and responsible policy” vis-à-vis the crisis in Europe.

Economically, Israel’s stockpiles of essential goods needed to maintain the economy are well prepared, but time is of the essence, as it is around the world.

The Jewish state is prepared to absorb Jews from Ukraine who wish to make Aliyah (immigrate) to the country. Several hundred applications for Aliyah have been made online. However, the applicants cannot make it out of Ukraine to travel to Israel. Israel estimates that there are some 50,000 Jews in Ukraine, and another 150,000 who are eligible for immigration through the Law of Return.

On Sunday night, at the border crossing in Sirte, northern Romania, Roni Shabtai, Israel’s Consul in the country, received a group of 53 Israelis who left Ukraine after being on the road for more than 10 hours. Similar operations occurred on the border with Poland.

According to the Foreign Ministry, some 2,000 Israeli citizens have left Ukraine since the outbreak of hostilities on Thursday. The border crossings between Ukraine and Poland are very busy, and the Foreign Ministry recommends that Israeli citizens wishing to leave Ukraine should do so using alternative crossings to Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Moldova.

The MASHAV Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) is handling preparations for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Ukraine later this week. The 100-ton cargo of Israeli humanitarian equipment for civilians in the combat zones includes water purification kits, medical equipment and drugs, tents, blankets, sleeping bags, and additional winter equipment for civilians. The cargo does not include military equipment.

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