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Ukraine complains of Israeli holdup on defensive gear

Addressing the press today, Ukraine's ambassador to Israel complained that Israel refuses to greenlight the transfer of sophisticated anti-tank systems from Germany despite US approval.

Ukraine's ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, expressed frustration today over Jerusalem’s alleged refusal to approve the transfer of the Spike SR anti-tank guided missile system from Germany to Ukraine.

Addressing a press conference, Korniychuk said, "Last week, from what I know for sure, the Americans gave permission for the anti-tank missiles to be transferred from Germany to Ukraine and Israel said no."

The Spike SR system is produced in Germany in an Israeli-owned factory, with Israeli technology. The terms of the license require Israel to greenlight any transfer of the systems. The fifth generation of this system was sold to several European NATO members. It can reportedly destroy long-range targets with pinpoint precision.

At the press conference, the ambassador accused Israel of paying lip service to the defense of Ukrainians without offering concrete aid for their protection, stating, "While Russia slaughters our citizens, the Israeli government remains in its 'comfort zone' and refrains from providing Ukraine with minimal defensive assistance. We ask Israel for a defensive in the form of an 'Iron Dome' and similar defensive tools. As Israel protects the residents of the Gaza Strip from Hamas fire, we must protect our citizens — women, children and men. The residents of Israel show love and sympathy for us. The government also shows empathy in speech, but when it comes to actions, that is something else."

Apart from requesting anti-tank systems, the ambassador complained that Israel allegedly did not keep its promise for protective equipment, saying, "We asked to receive protective helmets and protective vests and received about 10% of what we requested." He went on, "We are asking Israel to accept former soldiers whose limbs were amputated to fit them with prostheses and Israel is delaying. There is no humanitarian aid more than this."

Korniychuk was referring to an April 20 statement by Israel’s Defense Ministry after a phone call between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov, saying, "In light of the request of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, [Gantz] approved the purchase of protective equipment of helmets and vests, which will be transferred to the Ukrainian rescue forces and civilian organizations." The statement was widely taken as a significant shift in Israel’s policy, which until then had refused to supply Ukraine any defense gear, wary of angering Moscow.

Yesterday, the US Department of Justice authorized the seizure of a Boeing 787-8 aircraft and a Gulfstream G650ER aircraft owned by Israeli-Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Israel has taken its time in condemning the Russian invasion on Ukraine and has yet to join Western sanctions against Russian businesspeople Europe and the United States consider supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A list of Israel’s richest citizens published today by The Marker includes Abramovich.  

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met yesterday with Vice Chancellor of Germany Robert Habeck. One of the issues they discussed was collaborations in the field of energy, as Europe attempts to secure alternative energy supplies. Israel has been negotiating in recent weeks with European institutions over the possibility of exporting Israeli natural gas through Egypt. Israeli diplomats told Al-Monitor recently that negotiations are advancing well and that an agreement might be reached in the near future.

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