image Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Zelenskyy asks to make speech in Israel

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address Israel’s parliament about the Russian invasion of his country and has asked to deliver remarks by video to the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

By Erin Viner

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy announced that “it would be his honor” to facilitate a speech from President Zelenskyy to all 120 Members of the Knesset (MKs) via a video call on Zoom “in the coming days.”

Zelenskyy has sought to drum up support with video briefings of foreign audiences that have included the United States House of Representatives and the British parliament.

The Knesset Speaker is coordinating the address with Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk.

During a telephone call between the two yesterday, Ambassador Korniychuk thanked Speaker Levy for his welcoming response to the request.

The Ukrainian envoy also expressed gratitude for Levy’s public refutation of erroneous reports that Israel had rejected President Zelenskyy’s request.

At the end of their conversation, the two agreed to be in continuous and open contact, and the Knesset Speaker reiterated Israel’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people “at this difficult hour” and wished them strength,” said a government statement.

Israel has condemned the Russian invasion and sent unprecedented levels of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but has so far resisted Kyiv’s call to provide weapons.

Israeli President Naftali Bennett made a surprise trip to Moscow last week for talks with Russian President Vladimir Puti in attempts to mediate an end to the conflict, at Ukraine’s request.

The Jewish State has also launched “Operation Returning Home” aimed at rescuing endangered Ukrainian Jews who may want to emigrate; as well as offer safe refuge to some 25,000 Ukrainians who are not eligible for immigration

Meanwhile, the Yad Vashem Center announced it is considering a separate request from Zelenskyy to address its chairman and historians.

Both sides have invoked the Holocaust since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24  February.

In the attempted justification of its offensive, Moscow maintains it is trying to “de-Nazify” the East European naton – a claim rejected as nonsense by Kyiv and Western countries.

Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, said Russian shelling on 3 March near the Holocaust memorial at Babi Yar, the site of some of the most notorious atrocities in World War Two, was “history repeating (itself)”.

In related developments, Yad Vashem said it had suspended a strategic partnership with Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who also holds Israeli citizenship, who has faced sanctions abroad since the Ukraine invasion. The United Kingdom also froze assets belonging to Abramovich, who is the owner of Chelsea soccer club.