Time For Israel To Abolish Neutrality, Return To Ukraine, Says President Zelensky

In his speech, President Zelensky said that “Ukraine made the choice to save the Jews 80 years ago.”


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday urged Israel to abandon efforts to maintain neutrality in the wake of the Russian aggression, saying the time had come for the Jewish state to firmly support its country.

Zelensky, who is a Jew, made the appeal while speaking to Israeli lawmakers, the latest in a series of speeches via video conferencing to foreign legislatures.

In a statement that at some point compared Russia’s aggression with the Holocaust, Zelensky said that “Ukraine made the choice to save Jews 80 years ago.”

“Now is the time for Israel to make its choice.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has taken cautious diplomatic measures since Russia launched its aggression on 24 February.

Emphasizing Israel’s strong ties with Moscow and Kyiv, Bennett has sought to maintain delicate security cooperation with Russia, which has troops in Syria, across Israel’s northern border.

Bennett has held regular phone calls with Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, including a three -hour meeting with Putin at the Kremlin on March 5.

While Ukrainian officials have voiced appreciation for Bennett’s mediation, Zelensky on Sunday hinted that the effort had proven to be a mistake.

“We can be a mediator between states but not between good and evil,” the Ukrainian leader said.

‘Nazi terms’

Zelensky, whose family lost relatives during the Holocaust, claims the Kremlin has used “Nazi terminology” in characterizing its objectives in Ukraine.

“The Nazis were talking about a‘ Final Solution ’to the Jewish question,” he said. “Now Moscow is talking about a final solution for Ukraine.”

The comparison drew immediate criticism from several Israeli officials, including Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel of the right-wing New Hope party.

“We cannot rewrite the history of the Holocaust, the genocide that was also committed on Ukrainian soil. This war is horrific, but comparing it to the horrors of the Holocaust and the Final Solution is outrageous,” Hendel wrote on Twitter, voicing support for Ukrainians.

Zelensky said he was not raised religiously, and he did not put his Judaism at the forefront of his presidential campaign.

But he is increasingly calling on his faith to gather support for Ukraine among Jews and within Israel, including through social media posts in Hebrew.

The Jewish state does not join Western sanctions against Russia, but some members of its coalition government have voiced tougher lines than Bennett’s.


They include Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who has repeatedly condemned Russia’s actions.

“I reiterate my condemnation of the attacks on Ukraine and thank President Zelensky for sharing his feelings and the plight of the Ukrainian people,” Lapid said after the speech.

Zelensky’s appearance was also shown on Habima Square in central Tel Aviv, the site of several recent anti-Russian rallies.

Ahead of the speech, left -wing Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said Israel’s neutrality could no longer be defended.

“Putting aside any political considerations, we are witnessing an event where it is clear what is bad and what is good; who is the aggressor and who is the attacker,” Huldai said.

“There are moments where one cannot be silent; and today, now, is one of these moments.”

Watching the speech at Habima Square was 45 -year -old Victor Vertsner, who said he was “embarrassed” by the Israeli response.

“We are doing too little and doing it too late. We need to do more. We have no right to stand on the sidelines and watch, as Jews who lived through the Holocaust and who survived,” he told AFP.

More than one million of Israel’s 9.4 million people have roots in the former Soviet Union.

Israel has provided humanitarian support to Ukraine but has so far rejected Kyiv’s request for military assistance.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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