Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke this week on the phone with both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents, continuing his diplomatic efforts to mediate between the sides.
On Wednesday, he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The last time he spoke with him was nine days earlier. A statement issued by the Kremlin said Putin gave Bennett his assessments on the ongoing negotiations and "progress of the special military operation" in Ukraine. Reportedly, the Russian president expressed condolences over Wednesday’s deadly terror attack in Beersheba, where four Israeli civilians were killed.
A day earlier, Bennett spoke with Zelenskyy. The Ukrainian president said he had spoken that day with Bennett, as well as with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. In a late-night speech broadcast on social networks, Zelenskyy said, “All the conversations and speeches are so that Russia will understand one thing: We need to reach peace. Russia should also want peace.” Zelenskyy did not offer any details about his conversation with Bennett.
On Sunday, Zelenskyy said Jerusalem could be a good venue to hold a peace summit. Zelenskyy's chief-of-staff, Andriy Yermak, expressed yesterday the same idea. In a video call with Israeli reporters, Yermak said that Israel could also be "one of the guarantors of a major international treaty that would provide clear security guarantees" for his country. "Such an agreement provides for a large list of countries — potential guarantors. Therefore, we are holding separate consultations with each of these countries in order to meet together afterward," Yermak said.
Ukraine, he added, "has very warm, friendly and special relations with Israel," noting that Ukrainian leadership appreciates Israel's mediation efforts. "We are amazed at how deeply Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, are aware of the issue. And we believe that he is really determined to do everything necessary to bring peace to our land and end the war."
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed yesterday all those leaders "who dialogue with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, whether they are from the European Union or not." Macron was apparently referring primarily to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he met earlier that morning, but perhaps also to Bennett.
Yesterday, Israel was among the 140 countries that supported a UN General Assembly resolution demanding an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Israel was also among over 70 countries to endorse the text.
Yesterday’s resolution was the second one adopted by the UN against the Russian invasion. Israel had also supported and sponsored that first text, which was approved with 141 votes. In both cases, Israel was represented by Deputy Ambassador Noa Furman and not by Ambassador Gilad Erdan himself. Also, Israel did not sponsor a similar resolution adopted by the UN Security Council shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in Jerusalem with European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, discussing among other issues Israel’s absorption of Ukrainian refugees. Lapid tweeted after the meeting, "We had a productive conversation about regional challenges as well as possibilities for deepening ties between Israel and Europe."