Jerusalem is “one of the priority venues” to host a potential meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Ukrainian president's chief of staff.
In a conversation with Israeli journalists on Thursday, Andriy Yermak praised Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s efforts to facilitate peace talks.
“We think that he is really inclined and willing to do all it takes to bring peace to our land and to stop the war,” Yermak said. He noted that Ukrainian officials are impressed by “how deeply aware of the situation” Bennett and other Israelis officials are.
Praises aside, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff does not believe that Israel’s balanced mediation approach is the best way to achieve peace.
“A form of mediation that doesn’t take sides will not work, unfortunately,” Yermak said.
“The way the Russian army is behaving in Ukraine is very much like the way the Nazis were behaving during the Second World War. These things need to be said, they need to be very clearly understood, and I do hope that our Israeli friends have no problem with that. And playing this role of a mediator, they will always understand who in this story was an aggressor, and who is defending their homeland. That is very important,” he added.
Zelenskyy said he was in touch with Bennett again, stating in a video posted on Telegram this morning that he had spoken to the Israeli prime minister in the past day.
"In the last day, I have also talked with the President of Lithuania [Gitanas Nausėda] and with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, [Boris Johnson]," said Zelensky.
"And all this with the aim that Russia will understand one thing: we must strive for peace. Russia should do the same."
This comes after Zelenskyy delivered a blistering speech to Knesset members on Sunday, accusing the Jewish state of failing to provide the necessary help for his country.
The Israeli premier has held back-to-back calls with both Putin and Zelenskyy in recent weeks, and traveled to Moscow in an attempt to broker a ceasefire that will end the war.
“Since day one, and since our first conversation, we felt how serious the intentions of prime minister Bennett are,” Yermak added. “It is Israel that can play a key role probably in the negotiations and suspension of hostilities and withdrawal of the Russian army from our own territory.”
Yermak hopes that Israel will be one of the nations to sign guarantees of Ukrainian security if a peace deal were to eventually be negotiated. Ukrainians have proposed that Germany, Turkey, Canada and Israel be guarantors, along with the five permanent United Nations Security Council states – China, France, Russia, the UK and the U.S. – the Times of Israel reported.
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.