Valuing ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, Israel does not want to be perceived as taking sides in the conflict.
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
After days of silence, and after the majority of the West condemned Russia for its aggressive actions against Ukraine and announced sanctions, Israel officially stated that it “shares the concern of the international community regarding the steps taken in eastern Ukraine and the serious escalation in the situation.”
Spokesperson of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lior Haiat stated on Wednesday that “Israel hopes for a diplomatic solution which will lead to calm, and is willing to help if asked” while it “supports the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine.”
Furthermore, the Jewish state “is concerned about the welfare of thousands of Israeli citizens living in Ukraine and the welfare of the large Jewish community in the country,” Haiat said.
“Israel is ready and willing to immediately transfer humanitarian assistance to Ukraine according to its needs and is in contact with the Ukrainian authorities regarding the matter. We are continuing to engage in dialogue with its partners on ways to get the diplomatic efforts back on track,” he concluded.
The statement did not mention Russia at all.
Until now, Israel has remained officially silent on the crisis between the West and Russia and was one of the only countries that did not condemn Russia for its latest actions.
With ties with Moscow and Kyiv and a large Jewish community in both countries, Israel does not want to be perceived as taking sides in the conflict.
However, Minister of Diaspora Nachman Shai told Kan 11 Radio on Monday that said that if the U.S. asks Israel to join the sanctions against the Russians, “we will try to avoid reaching this place. I assume that Israel will go with the camp closer to it, the Western countries. Our loyalty is first and foremost to the United States.”
Kyiv is not happy with Israel’s conduct and statements and Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky was summoned on Thursday for a clarification conversation at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, a diplomatic reprimand, following the publication of a telephone conversation between Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz.
Brodsky explained at the meeting that the conversation between Jerusalem and Moscow had two purposes: to convey a message of de-escalation and to express concern for the security of Israelis.