Zelensky speaks to Lapid for first time, calls on Israel to join Russia sanctions

The Israeli premier also called on Israelis not to travel to Uman for the high holidays. 

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was counting on Israel to join sanctions against Russia, shortly after he held his first phone conversation with Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

“I’ve held the first telephone conversation with the new Prime Minister of Israel Yair Lapid,” Zelensky tweeted. “I count on his country’s accession to the sanctions on Russia and provision of practical assistance to Ukraine in countering the aggression of the Russian Federation.”

The Israeli readout issued after the call, however, made no mention of sanctions.

Lapid expressed his support for the Ukrainian people and offered his condolences for those killed and wounded in the war so far. He also called for a diplomatic solution to end the fighting.

The Israeli premier congratulated Zelensky on Ukraine’s 31st anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union, which occurred last week.

Lapid has been outspoken about his support for Ukraine and has condemned the Russian invasion – but only in his former post of foreign minister. Since becoming prime minister, Lapid has taken a much more muted approach to the Russia-Ukraine war.

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Israel has toed the line, maintaining a policy of relative neutrality because of its ongoing airstrikes against Iranian targets from Russian-controlled Syrian skies.

However, Israeli-Russian relations have spiraled recently, with Moscow issuing condemnations to Jerusalem over its alleged attacks in Syria.

Lapid also urged Israeli pilgrims not to travel to the city of Uman in eastern Ukraine for the Jewish high holidays “in light of the life-threatening danger posed by entering the area of fighting,” his office said. Under normal circumstances, tens of thousands of hasidim go there to pray at the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.