World · June 23, 2022

Zelensky blows up Israel for refusing to sanction Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky intensified his criticism of Israel’s refusal to sanction Russia on Thursday during a speech by the Jewish leader at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Zelensky’s speech four months into Russia’s war on Ukraine comes amid a new political crisis in Israel that will likely see Naftali Bennett replaced as prime minister by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid within days.

Bennett refrained from criticizing the Russian invasion and stressed Israel’s close ties with Moscow and Kiev while his administration did not impose sanctions on the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Days after the February 24 invasion, Lapid condemned Russia’s actions as a “violation of world order”.

Israeli commentators said their conflicting rhetoric was coordinated to safeguard Israeli neutrality.

Zelenksy, who has a family in Israel and has visited the country several times, told the Hebrew University in a video speech that he struggled to understand the Jewish state’s soft approach to Russia.

“How can you not help the victims of this aggression,” Zelenksy said, lamenting Israel’s refusal to offer military aid to Ukraine.

“I don’t know how to answer the questions I always get about how Israel has helped and what else Israel can do.

“I am grateful to the people of Israel. I am grateful for the sincere and emotional support to the Ukrainian people … but we would also like to receive support from your government, “she added.

The Israeli government and major relief organizations sent humanitarian and medical aid to Ukraine, but arms supplies remained out of the question.

Zelensky also recalled the historical ties between Ukraine and Israel, a message he emphasized in a March speech to Israeli lawmakers.

In Thursday’s speech, Zelensky noted that former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s childhood home in Kiev was “five minutes” from his presidential office.

“Please remember how close we are, how close our bonds are, what level of understanding should be between us,” he said.

“Why we have this miscommunication, misunderstanding with government representatives, I don’t know.”

So far, Israel has followed a cautious diplomatic line on the Ukrainian conflict, in part to preserve Russian cooperation in Syria, where Israel regularly conducts air strikes with the tacit acceptance of Moscow, which has forces in the country.