“The Russian attack on Ukraine is a serious violation of the international order. Israel condemns the attack, and is ready and prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Ukraine. Israel is a country that has experienced wars, and war is not the way to resolve conflicts,” declared Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister and Alternate Premier Yair Lapid.
By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner
“Israel is a country that has experienced wars, and war is not the way to resolve conflicts. The first hours and days of any war are also the last time you can still stop and return to the negotiating table, mediated by world powers, to settle disputes peacefully,” said Israel’s top diplomat.
The strongly yet carefully worded statement TV7 obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stopped short of condemning Moscow or its leadership, underscoring that “Israel has deep, long-lasting, and good relations with Russia and with Ukraine.”
Pointing out that “there are tens of thousands of Israelis” and “hundreds of thousands of Jews” in both countries, the Israeli Foreign Minister said that the maintenance of their “security and safety is at the top of our considerations.”
Lapid went on to reiterate for Israelis to immediately leave Ukraine via its Western border, since railways and airspace in the East European nations is currently shut down.
“I call on every Israeli citizen to leave Ukraine to go there as long as the roads are open,” he said.
“Consular representatives from the Foreign Ministry have already been stationed at all border crossings near Lviv in order to help Israelis leave,” he said, at locations including the “the Medyka crossing on the Polish border, the Vysne Nemescke crossing on the Slovak border, the Zahony crossing to Hungary, and the Siret crossing to Romania.”
All of the detailed arrangements for “the safe and smooth exit of Israelis” were coordinated in advance with all the above-mentioned countries, whose governments were publicly thanked by Lapid for “their assistance and goodwill.”
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett used an address this afternoon at the IDF officer’s course graduation ceremony to mention the crisis.
“The world is much less stable, and our region is also changing from day to day. These times are teaching us that wars between armies are not, to our regret, relics of the past. However, the State of Israel is currently an anchor of strength, stability and security in a difficult region, a region that poses great threats and challenges. Every Israeli knows that they have a home to return to, that there is someone to look after them in times of trouble,” he said.
He then took the opportunity to repeat his message to Israeli citizens who have not yet left Ukraine, insisting they must “Leave now.”
Echoing Minister Lapid, the Premier said that Israeli representatives “are waiting to welcome you at the western border crossings.”
In an offer of safe refuge to any members of the Ukrainian or Russian Jewish communities, Bennett added, “any Jew from anywhere in the world knows that a home awaits them here, with us, and that our door will always be open.”
Emphasizing that, “Like everyone else, we pray for peace and calm in Ukraine and still hope that dialogue will lead to a resolution,” the Israeli leader stressed that “our hearts are with the civilians who through no fault of their own have been thrust into this situation” during these “difficult and tragic moments.”
Prime Minister Bennett then repeated the offer “to extend humanitarian aid as needed,” underscoring that “We have the capability; we are experienced and we will help Ukraine’s citizens as much as possible.”