Ukrainian president, Volodomyr Zelensky, stated that the Israeli regime has the potential to play an important role in ending the war. He further commented that Jerusalem would be an ideal location to host peace talks between his country and Russia. This comes off the back of Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, acting as a mediator between the two states, including flying to Moscow in order to speak directly with Putin.
Indeed the Israeli regime has taken a quasi-neutral position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In an emergency UN General Assembly session at the beginning of March, the Israeli regime voted for a resolution that condemned the invasion and called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. Yet it has refused to participate in both US and European sanctions on Russia despite the US directly asking them to. The Israeli regime has also ignored Zelensky’s request for defensive weapons and instead has sent medical supplies.
This quasi neutrality is reflective of the Israeli regime’s long standing relations with both countries as well as a significant number of both Israeli Ukrainians and Russians. Yet its relationship with Russia is more complicated and for this reason, it is treading carefully. Russia is a significant military force in the Middle East, particularly in Syria where it has a large presence. Some have even claimed that the Israeli regime is afraid of Russia.
Then, there are the Jewish Russian oligarchs, some of whom have sought refuge in Israel since the invasion and the implementations of sanctions. Most infamously among them is Roman Abramovich, Chelsea Football club owner, a big financier of Israeli settler groups and reportedly a member of Putin’s inner circle. As a result of his close relationship with Putin, Abramovich has faced sanctions from the EU and UK including asset freezes and travel bans. Immediately after which, his private jet was seen to have landed in Tel Aviv.
Not everyone has been impressed with Israel’s attempts at “peace-making”. The Ukrainian ambassador to Israel stated that there shouldn’t be a special role for Israel in the war and that its neutrality is more about game playing. It is becoming increasingly clear that Bennett’s shuttle diplomacy is a farce in the face of the Israeli regime’s own (complicated) interests. How long it will be able to maintain this “neutral” stance amidst US and EU pressures to stand unequivocally with Ukraine, is still to be seen however.
Meanwhile Palestinians look on in absolute bewilderment at the Israeli regime’s new self-appointed role as mediator and potential peacemaker. If it was not so tragic, it would be a comedy. After establishing an apartheid state in 1948, literally on the ashes of Historic Palestine, the Israeli regime has since continuously invaded Palestinian land and appropriated it for exclusive Jewish Israeli use. In doing so it has forcibly removed Palestinians from their homes and in many cases has forced them into permanent exile. The Israeli regime has also long laid siege to Gaza and frequently subjects it to devastating bombardments.