“In which direction will humanity go: violence, war, and a return to inter-bloc struggle, or peace, prosperity, and the ability to work together for common goals?”
By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Riga, Latvia, on Monday. The two chief diplomats of their respective nations talked about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and ways to aid the Ukrainian people.
Lapid said they discussed the continuation of joint efforts between their countries to “stop a brutal and unnecessary war.”
“The world order is changing before our eyes,” said Lapid in a statement released after the meeting. “We are in a historic moment. In which direction will humanity go: violence, war, and a return to inter-bloc struggle, or peace, prosperity, and the ability to work together for common goals?”
Lapid stated that Israel is assisting in the mediation efforts to end the conflict, together with Germany and France. However, Israel continues to condemn the Russian invasion, he said, adding that there was no justification for violating Ukrainian sovereignty and killing innocent civilians.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Bennett, Israel is maintaining continuous contact with Russia and President Putin, as well as with Ukraine and President Zelensky,” he said. “We have one goal: to stop the war and prevent more suffering and victims.”
At the same time, Lapid continued, “we have vital security interests vis-a-vis Russia on our northern border, and we are committed to the safety and security of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Israelis in Russia and Ukraine.”
The security interests to which he referred have to do with the continued threat posed by the Iran-backed, Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon and the current Syrian regime, which is being supported militarily by Russia to fight the rebels in its ongoing civil war.
On Monday morning, Syrian sources said the Israeli Air Force bombed targets in the vicinity of Damascus.
This attack is at least the eighth attributed to Israel since the beginning of 2022. On February 24, three soldiers were killed during an IAF strike against suspected weapons shipments from Iran on their way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Lapid also cited the fact that Israel has been actively assisting Ukraine since almost the first day of fighting. Nearly 100 tons of Israeli aid have already been sent to Ukraine, and an Israeli field hospital will be established in the coming week in Ukrainian territory.
That is in addition to a field hospital complex that is being deployed at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer for treating the expected influx of Ukrainian refugees.
On Sunday, Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked said that since the outbreak of the war, 2,034 Ukrainian nationals have entered Israel.
“It appears that the State of Israel is the western country without a land border with Ukraine that has absorbed the most Ukrainians per capita since the outbreak of fighting,” Shaked declared.
And on Monday, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem offered temporary positions to Ukrainian academics and graduate students and invited professors to continue their research there during the crisis for a period of up to four months. The university also offered stipends, as well as free room and board at on-campus residences.
Concerning Israel’s attempts to mediate the conflict, Lapid said Israel’s efforts are fully coordinated with the U.S. “The United States is our greatest and closest ally,” he stressed. “We share with them values and a strategic vision regarding the required steps.”
“We call for the opening of safe humanitarian corridors from the cities that are under fire,” added Lapid. “We call for an immediate ceasefire that will allow for negotiations that will restore peace and quiet to Ukraine.
srael will continue to participate in the international effort to assist refugees from Ukraine, and will also absorb even non-Jewish refugees as a humanitarian gesture,Lapid said. But he acknowledged that Israel’s main effort is bringing tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Jews to Israel.
The foreign minister also took the opportunity to once again raise the issue of the threat to the entire world posed by a nuclear Iran.
“At the same time, Israel is continuing its effort to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state,” he said. “The nuclear agreement which stands to be signed in Vienna is a bad and ineffective agreement. Israel isn’t obliged by it, and reserves the freedom to act in any way against the Iranian nuclear program.”
“This war is a reminder to the State of Israel,” added Lapid. “We have friends, and we have allies, but our security always needs to be only in our hands. What keeps us alive in a dangerous world, is the fact we have an army. A strong and smart army. An army which will protect the State of Israel.”