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Germany’s Scholz behind Israel’s Bennett shuttle diplomacy on Ukraine

Associates of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emphasize that his traveling to Moscow and Berlin and his contacts with all the parties were conducted with the US administration in the picture and with its blessing.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett welcomes a group of orphans from the Alumim orphanage in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr, on arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, March 6, 2022.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was the real instigator of the Ukraine-Russia mediation effort undertaken by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week, according to sources close to the prime minister. “It all started with a long one-on-one meeting between the chancellor and the prime minister,” a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Scholz complained to Bennett that although Europe was experiencing one of the toughest wars in decades, and despite the explosive potential of a speedy deterioration, there are no mediators who will try to understand both sides and meet them to map out their differences and try to lower the flames.”

The newly installed chancellor made a lightning visit to Israel March 3 and his chemistry with Bennett was immediately obvious. Their meeting resulted in the mediation idea, according to the prime minister’s aides. After analyzing the situation between Russia and Ukraine, both men concluded that of all the leaders in the world, Bennett had the required equal access to both sides as well as to both opposing camps. Bennett has been building up his credibility with Russian President Vladimir Putin since taking office last year. Israel also enjoys a special relationship with Ukraine’s Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. What's more, Israel is a close US ally and also enjoys warm ties with Europe, making Bennett the apparent perfect mediator on all fronts.

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