Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is planning to hold a press conference this afternoon regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and many are wondering whether he will condemn Russia or maintain neutrality.
While Israel has yet to take sides, neither condemning Russia nor supporting Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry issued its first public statement on Tuesday expressing “concern” over the “serious escalation.”
Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz are holding an assessment this morning on the situation while Israel’s Foreign Ministry scrambles to help Israelis and Jews still in Ukraine to get to safety following an invasion by Russian troops in the eastern part of the country.
Up to 8,000 Israelis are still believed to be in Ukraine. However, the main airport is now closed and the only way out of the country is through land borders. Earlier this week the Israeli embassy evacuated its staff from Kyiv to Lviv, about 60 kilometers from the Polish border, where officials are preparing to receive evacuees.
After the invasion began, Israel’s Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata said Israel is prepared to deliver immediate humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and facilitate aliyah (immigration to Israel).
“We are ready to accept thousands of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine,” she added in remarks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Israel has carefully avoided taking sides up until now. Though normally aligned with the West, Israel has a tenuous situation with Moscow heavily involved on its border with Syria. The Russian military has been present in Syria to help stabilize the nation and train its military, even running drills on Israel’s border. On the other hand, Moscow has turned a blind eye to Israeli air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS