Repeating its request for air defense systems, Kiev appealed for Jerusalem to join the battle against Russian invaders.
By Erin Viner
“Isn’t it time for your state to choose who you are with as well?” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video speech to a conference for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Monday.
“Is it with the democratic world, which is fighting side by side against the existential threat to its existence? Or with those who turn a blind eye to Russian terror, even when the cost of continued terror is the complete destruction of global security,” he questioned.
Israel has strongly condemned Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine. Jerusalem is simultaneously cautious of straining relations with Moscow, a power broker in neighboring Syria where Israeli forces frequently attack pro-Iranian militia; while also acting to ensure the wellbeing of Russia’s Jews.
Israel has long provided humanitarian aid – including the establishment of a field hospital, provision of life-saving defensive equipment and negotiating safe refuge for war refugees. The Jewish State also offered on multiple occasions to mediate an end to the conflict.
Jerusalem has also recently offered to help Kiev develop air attack alerts for civilians.
Zelenskyy said that was not enough and asked that Israel reconsiders provision of its most sophisticated aerial defense systems. He has issued the same appeal a number of times since the war started in February.
Israel has been wary of straining relations with the Kremlin, which is a powerbroker in neighboring Syria where Israel coordinates strikes against Iranian deployments. Jerusalem and Moscow maintain a defense coordination mechanism in the Arab Republic to prevent clashes between their militaries. Russian forces have been deployed to fight in the Civil War on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime, while Israel frequently launches operations against deployments by Iran and its regional proxies such as the Hezbollah terror group in Syria.
In “a positive discussion with his Ukrainian counterpart,” also on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed condolences over “the tragic loss of life” and “concern regarding the humanitarian crisis” as a result of the war, said a statement TV7 obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD)
Jerusalem’s top defense official also “highlighted Israel’s position in standing with the Ukrainian people and the West, and expressed his commitment to supporting Ukraine via the delivery of humanitarian aid and life-saving defense equipment,” said the statement.
While emphasizing to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov that an additional aid package currently under review by Israeli leaders will not include weapon systems “due to a variety of operational considerations,” Lieutenant General (Ret.) Gantz stressed that it will include a smart missile defense alert system similar to that used by the Jewish State.
The Ministers concluded the conversation with agreement to continue communications in the coming weeks.