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Israel has taken a 'measured and responsible' approach to the Russia-Ukraine war in order to safeguard its own interests, Bennett says

The prime minister said today this also allows Israel to "quietly" help and "be one of the few that can communicate directly with both parties, and assist where requested"

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

As Jerusalem navigates a fine diplomatic line in the war between Russia and Ukraine, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett admitted today that Israel is in a tough spot – but also in a unique position to be able to reach out to both countries.

“The State of Israel has taken a measured and responsible line from the start, which allows us to not only safeguard our interests, but also to help,” he said today. “To be one of the few that can communicate directly with both parties, and assist where requested. And we do help, quietly.”

In separate phone calls with the two leaders, Bennett apparently turned down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for military aid and reassured Russian President Vladimir Putin he would only send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to Israeli media reports.

Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported that Zelenskyy asked for “assistance with military implements and weapons.”

Zelenskyy also apparently asked that Jerusalem host talks between Kyiv and Moscow. Bennett proposed the same idea to Putin during a phone call on Sunday, which hedeclined, Kan reported.

The Jewish state is walking a fine line between its two allies: Russia and Ukraine. And Israel is trying hard not to get embroiled in the conflict in an effort to protect its own citizens and interests.

That balance was slightly upset when Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid labeled the incursion a “grave violation of international order.”

“Israel condemns the attack, and is ready and prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Ukraine,” Lapid said.

But aside from sending humanitarian aid while denying Ukraine military aid, Bennett has remained mum.

No doubt Israel took note of Moscow’s warning yesterday when the Foreign Ministry reportedly issued a warning to the European Union that providing weapons to Ukraine will result in “a harsh response to the EU actions.”

“Russia will continue to ensure the achievement of vital national interests irrespective of the sanctions or their threat. It is time Western nations realized that their complete dominance in the global economy is long gone,” the Foreign Ministry told Interfax.

“EU citizens and entities involved in the delivery of lethal weapons, fuel, and lubricants to Ukraine will bear responsibility for any consequences of such actions to manifest themselves during the ongoing special military operation,” the statement said. “They cannot fail to understand how dangerous these consequences are.”

Israel is ever mindful of the Russian military presence ensconced on its northern border with Syria.

Today, Moscow reaffirmed that the status quo in Syria between the Russian and Israeli militaries will not change – at least for now.

“Our military officials discuss the practical issues of this substantively on a daily basis. This mechanism has proven to be useful and will continue to work,” a source in the Russian embassy told The Times of Israel.

But Israel’s ties with both countries will be put to the test if a resolution condemning Russia comes up at the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow.

Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.

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