Israel will not tolerate insults while mediating, Ukraine backs off

“It does not make sense that we would try to help and you would attack us,” Israeli officials told the Ukrainians.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Ukraine has backed off from condemning Israel after Jerusalem sent Kyiv some sharp messages on the subject, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

“It does not make sense that we would try to help and you would attack us,” the network quoted both senior and junior Israeli officials as telling the Ukrainians.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk had sharply criticized Jerusalem’s refusal to send defensive equipment such as helmets and ceramic vests.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba blasted Israeli airline El Al Monday for making “money soaked in Ukrainian blood.”

And President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week in a press conference, saying that while “our relations are not bad, not bad at all,” it is also true that “relations are tested at times like these, at the hardest moments, when help and support are needed. And I don’t feel that he is wrapped in our flag.”

The message seems to have resonated in Kyiv, as on Tuesday, Zelensky publicly expressed gratitude to the prime minister for his attempts to stop the continued bloodshed in his country.

“Talked to Naftali Bennett,” he tweeted. “Thanked [him] for Israel’s mediation efforts. Discussed ways to end the war and violence.”

Additionally, Kuleba apologized for his attack after being notified that El Al had, in fact, blocked the use of the Mir credit card in question as of February.

Bennett has been talking on an almost-daily basis with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Zelensky for the past week. Although he has seemingly not pushed any ceasefire solutions of his own, he has acted as an indirect interlocutor, delivering messages from one side to the other.

Possibly due to at least in part to his efforts, the sides may be coming closer at least on one major issue.

Among Russia’s demands is that Ukraine change its constitution to become a neutral state, as it considers Kyiv’s oft-stated desire to join the EU and NATO alliance a threat.

On Monday night, Zelensky told ABC News, “I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that … NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine.”

Other conditions for ending the war may be much harder for Zelensky to accept, as they lop off whole tracts of the country’s territory.

Moscow wants Ukraine to acknowledge Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula in the country’s south and recognize the separatist, eastern republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states after eight years of Russian-backed fighting in the region.

However, Zelensky took a conciliatory line in the interview on this as well, saying that although no country other than Russia has recognized the breakaway republics, “we can discuss and find the compromise on how these territories will live on.”