Israel’s attempts to mediate do not diminish its condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday, following a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Riga, Latvia.
Israel is also considering sending helmets and ceramic vests to Ukraine, which Kyiv has been requesting since the start of the war, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The matter has been discussed in the Foreign Ministry’s daily situation assessments, in addition to the humanitarian aid and field hospital Israel has sent.
“Israel is helping in the mediation effort together with Germany and France, but we continue to condemn the Russian invasion,” Lapid said in Riga.
His remarks came two days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, followed by a meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and several phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“There is no justification for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and killing innocent civilians,” Lapid said. “We call for an immediate ceasefire that will allow negotiations and bring back the peace and quiet in Ukraine.”
“We have one goal: to stop the war and prevent more suffering and victims,” he said.
The mediation attempt is fully coordinated with the US, Israel’s greatest and closest ally, Lapid said.
He also called for Russia to allow humanitarian corridors out of cities under attack.
Lapid’s condemnation of Russia came as Bennett continues to avoid such remarks.
At the same time, Lapid said Israel has “vital security interests” in coordinating with Russia over its border with Syria and is committed to the safety of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Russia and Ukraine.
Lapid said it was important to explain Israel’s delicate position with Russia to Blinken face-to-face, a diplomatic source said, characterizing the meeting as “very positive.”
Blinken plans to visit Israel in the coming weeks.
“This war is a reminder for the State of Israel,” Lapid said. “We have friends, we have allies, but our security must be in our hands only.”
In that vein, Lapid said Israel was continuing its efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-threshold state.
“The Iran deal that is about to be signed in Vienna is a bad and ineffective deal,” he said. “Israel is not committed to it and reserves for itself the freedom to act in any way against the Iranian nuclear program.”