Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel’s policy on the Russian invasion is “measured and responsible.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that Israel will send to the Ukraine 100 tons of humanitarian aid, as part of what he called Israel’s “responsible” policy on the Russian invasion.
“In the next two days,” he said, “a plane will arrive in Ukraine with 100 tons of Israeli humanitarian equipment for civilians in the combat zones and those who are trying to leave.
“It will have water purification kits, medical equipment as well as drugs, tents, blankets, sleeping bags and additional equipment for civilians who are not in their homes in the cold winter weather.”
Offensive – or even defensive – weaponry was notably not on the list of aid to Kyiv, as Israel is still tiptoeing the line between the two countries.
Practical Israeli interests in keeping Russia cooperative in turning a blind eye to IDF strikes at Irania-backed targets in Syria — where Moscow has troops, a naval base and anti-aircraft defenses — are a huge consideration in what Bennett called Israel’s “measured and responsible policy” during the biggest eastern European crisis in decades.
On Saturday night, thousands of Israelis, including many from the former Soviet Union, protested in Tel Aviv and Haifa against Russia and demanded that Israel side with the democratic, West-leaning Ukraine over “fascist” Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While confining verbal support for Ukraine at the Cabinet meeting to “praying for the wellbeing” of its citizens and “hop[ing] that additional bloodshed will be avoided,” Bennett did leave the session for 40 minutes to talk with Putin regarding the “situation between Russia and Ukraine,” the Prime Minister’s Office reported.
According to Reuters, Russian news agency RIA reported that Bennett had initiated the call, in which he offered Israel’s services as a go-between for the two warring countries.
Several Ukrainian government officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have asked Israel in recent weeks to use whatever influence it has with Putin to help solve the crisis. Bennett last spoke to Zelensky on Friday.
The prime minister also praised the Foreign Ministry staff, which has been stationed at five countries’ borders with Ukraine for the last several days in order to help the estimated 8,000 Israelis who did not heed previous government pleas to get out of the country as the danger of invasion grew.
The personnel “have been working around the clock to assist the Israelis who are at the border and want to leave there and come home,” he said, thanking them for their “sacred work.”