Israel’s unusual strategy on Ukraine

Israel has taken a rather individual position on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The government hasn’t levied any sanctions against oligarchs, nor has it provided weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces as Washington suggested they should.

Israel has its own interests at play: a bombing campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, which Russia must turn a blind eye to, and the ongoing talks in Vienna to strike a new Iranian nuclear deal, in which Russia is a key player.

So Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tried to play mediator, flying to Moscow and Berlin for face-to-face talks with Vladimir Putin and Olaf Scholz respectively, in addition holding telephone conversations with the Ukrainian and Russian leaders.

It has not been a smooth process – reports in the Jerusalem Post this weekend suggested Mr Bennett had told Mr Zelenskyy to surrender and carried a stinging quote from a Ukrainian government source suggesting Mr Bennett was nothing more than a messenger boy between the two sides. The Israelis angrily rejected that, and perhaps with some justification, because President Zelenskyy has now suggested mediation talks could happen in Jerusalem, of all places. Not a city known for unity, peace and neutrality.

Israel’s approach hasn’t won them many friends behind the scenes, but that won’t matter if they pull it off. Get Mr Putin and Mr Zelenskyy into the same room and you have a chance for peace. Mr Bennett’s strategy, whatever the motivation, could pay off.

Sky News.

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