Two Ukrainian-born Knesset members visiting Ukraine on Tuesday urged Israel to increase its assistance to Ukraine, including upgrading the country’s military defense capabilities against Russian missiles.
“Israel must meaningfully expand its support for Ukraine,” said the two lawmakers in a joint statement.
Yuli Edelstein and Ze’ev Elkin arrived in Kyiv with an Israeli parliamentary delegation, escorted by Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky.
The MKs met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who recently equated Russia with Goliath, and has urged Israel to provide Ukraine with its advanced aerial defense system, David’s Sling, as well as the Iron Dome and other weapons technology. “We support tangible cooperation between Israel and Ukraine in air defense and missile defense and in more defensive measures,” Elkin and Edelstein said in a statement.
Israel has provided Ukraine with medical and humanitarian aid, including a complete field hospital with medical staff, but has not provided military systems that Israel uses for its own defense. Unlike other Western democracies, Israel also refrained from declaring unilateral support for Ukraine because of Jerusalem’s security-coordination ties with Russia in Syria.
However, Edelstein and Elkin, who head the Israel-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, said they believe Israel needs to expand its support of Ukraine.
“Israel can and must do much more than it has done until now,” they said.
The two politicians emphasized that Jerusalem needs to prioritize its democratic values over its political ties with the Russian government.
“We must stop being afraid, and must take an unequivocal, active stance in line with basic moral values, as is expected of every Western country,” they said.
In a barely veiled criticism of Russia’s brutal conduct against civilians in Ukraine, the Israeli lawmakers stressed the need to punish crimes against humanity.
“All those guilty of war crimes against humanity must bear responsibility,” they stated.
In their support of Kyiv, Elkin and Edelstein emphasized their personal family connections to Ukraine: “As sons of Ukraine, whose relatives live today in Ukraine under [Russian] shelling, we know from eyewitnesses how hard it is for you today.”
The Israeli lawmakers visited a Ukrainian facility that examines the Iranian-manufactured drones that Russia has deployed against Ukraine, which have been shot down or captured.
Recognizing the danger of growing Russian-Iranian military ties, Elkin and Edelstein warned that the ayatollah regime is using Ukraine as a testing ground.
“Iran is turning Ukraine into its military testing ground, and this is dangerous for Israel,” said the MKs.
Edelstein and Elkin indicated that Ukraine’s Defense Ministry expressed a strong interest in cooperation with Israel against the shared Iranian drone threat.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, who has criticized Israel for insufficient support of Ukraine, welcomed the Israeli delegation, saying he hoped it would eventually translate into stronger collaboration between Ukraine and Israel.
However, Israel’s current policy regarding Ukraine is still guided by the need to maintain strong relations with both Ukraine and Russia.
During a recent exclusive i24NEWS interview, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stressed the need to preserve Israel’s complex ties with Moscow.
“We should be aware that Israel is in a complex situation, with our direct line to Russia – there are 600,000 Jews in Russia – with Russia’s pivotal position in our region – mainly in Syria – and we are very concerned about the cooperation between Iran and Russia, as well,” Cohen stated.
The foreign minister, who recently visited Kyiv, is the most senior Israeli official to travel to Ukraine since the Russian invasion a year ago.
During his visit to Ukraine, Cohen announced a $200 million loan guarantee earmarked for civilian purposes, such as healthcare and infrastructure. Jerusalem previously pledged humanitarian assistance worth $22.5 million to Ukraine.
While vague on Israel’s potential military assistance to Ukraine, Cohen offered a “smart early warning system” without further elaboration.