President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized on Sunday that the Israeli government was not clearly on the side of Ukraine and opposed Russia’s invasion during a virtual speech to Israeli lawmakers.
Important reason: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is one of the few leaders who has contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin and has communicated a message between Putin and Zelensky to reach a ceasefire.
- About 110 of the 120 members of the Knesset logged in to see the speech. It was also broadcast live on all Israeli TV networks and aired at a large pro-Ukrainian rally in Tel Aviv.
What they are saying: “Why are you busy with calculations? [regarding Russia]?? Mediate without standing by your side? It can be arbitrated, but not between good and evil. “
- The Ukrainian president compared Russia’s invasion with the Holocaust and said Russia wanted to unleash a full-scale war aimed at destroying Ukrainian people like Nazi Germany and destroy Jews.
- Zelensky criticized the Israeli government’s policy on the entry of Ukrainian refugees and complained that Israel refused to supply Ukraine with the Iron Dome missile defense system and other defense weapons and equipment.
- The Ukrainian president also criticized the Israeli government for failing to impose sanctions on Russia like the rest of the West.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Rapid After the speech, he condemned the attack on Ukraine and said he would like to thank Zelensky for sharing the feelings and pains of his people with the members of the Knesset.
- “We will continue to help the Ukrainians as much as we can and never turn our backs on those suffering from war,” Rapid said.
Opposite side: The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to comment on Zelensky’s speech. An Israeli official told Axios, “I can understand what he is experiencing. He is in great distress and his people are dying.”
- Meanwhile, several ministers and lawmakers have criticized Zelensky’s comparison between the war in Ukraine and the Holocaust.
Flashback: Zelensky’s speech reflects the harsh criticisms made earlier this month by Ukrainian officials during an interview with Axios. “Bennet is basically telling us to surrender. We are not going to do that,” said a senior Ukrainian official.
Behind the scenes: Zelensky wanted to give a speech in front of the Knesset plenary session, but declined. The Knesset chair said it was not possible because the members were adjourned and the plenary session was being refurbished.
- Israeli officials said this is all true, but not the only reason. The Israeli government was concerned that Putin would ask him to do the same if Zelensky addressed the Knesset.
- After facing criticism on social media, Knesset speakers offered a compromise that Zelensky would talk to members via Zoom.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a new reaction to the speech.