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Breaking neutrality, Israel says it will vote to condemn Russia in UN General Assembly emergency session on situation in Ukraine

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says Israel is on the right side of history; 27-year-old Israeli civilian killed in shooting near Kyiv 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid delivers remarks to the media, condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 24, 2022 (Photo: Niv Musman/GPO)

The United Nations General Assembly held an emergency session on Monday and more than 100 countries were are expected to address the international body on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The vote is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. 

The UNGA convened the rare session for the 11th time in history, following a decision by the Security Council. The last emergency session took place 40 years ago.

Russia voted against the move of the General Assembly, but despite China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining, 11 of the 15 Security Council members supported it.

The session began with a minute of silence for those killed in the conflict. UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the 193-member state forum, stressing that the fighting in Ukraine must stop. 

“Enough is enough,” Guterres said of the Russian invasion and called the death of civilians “totally unacceptable.” 

After a week of careful diplomatic comments on the crisis, Israel announced it would vote in favor of condemnation. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced Israel’s decision earlier in the day.

“This is the fifth day of the war in Ukraine. Either today or tomorrow, the UN will vote on a draft resolution to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel will join an overwhelming majority of countries around the world and vote in favor of the resolution,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Israel is closely examining the implications of sanctions on Russia. We established an inter-office team that will look at the consequences of Russia sanctions on the Israeli economy and our policy.” 

“Israel will be part of the world’s effort to aid Ukraine’s citizens. We have a moral obligation, a historic obligation, and a value-based commitment to be part of this effort. Today and tomorrow three airplanes will depart Israel to Ukraine, carrying a large emergency assistance cargo. Thousands of coats, blankets, sleeping bags, medical equipment, tents, and water purification kits.”  

“Israel was and will be on the right side of history, these are our values. Our main is the United States, but our American partners understand that there are two points that require our caution and discretion.”

The situation between Jerusalem and Moscow is complicated. Lapid explained that Israel shares a security border with Russia – which holds the most powerful military within the territory of Syria – Israel’s neighbor to the north. In recent years, Israel has been coordinating attacks on Iranian targets in Syria with the Russians. Lapid also noted that there are still thousands of Israeli citizens in Ukraine, waiting to leave the country, as well as up to 200,000 Jews that are eligible to return to the Jewish State under the Israeli Law of Return. 

For these reasons, Israel is walking a diplomatic tight rope with Russia. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Monday that an Israeli citizen was killed in a shooting incident, 87 kilometers south of Kyiv. Roman Brodsky, 27, was mistakenly shot by Ukrainian soldiers who were guarding a road checkpoint and misidentified him. 

“They thought he was Chechen or something else and killed him,” his father told Israel’s Kan News. 

Brodsky was reportedly shot while driving as part of a convoy of vehicles making their way to the Moldovan border to take a flight to Israel. He was a father of two children who immigrated to Israel when he was 13. 

"On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, I would like to send my condolences to the wife, children and family of Roman, in Israel and in Ukraine. We continue to do everything we can to help Israelis return home,“ Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Twitter. 

In another confrontation, an Israeli sailor was arrested by Russian forces on a Ukrainian cargo ship. The Foreign Ministry is making efforts to release him. 

The Israeli government has so far carefully expressed support of Ukraine and sent humanitarian aid to the war-torn nation while still refraining from outright condemnation of Russia. Last week, Israel ultimately refrained from joining 87 UN members in their backing of an American-initiated resolution to condemn Russia at the Security Council. 

According to a report by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid on Walla News, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield was upset with Israel's decision. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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