Israel has offered to help Ukraine develop an early-warning system but will not provide weapons systems, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday.
"Our policy vis-à-vis Ukraine will not change,” he said. “We will continue to support and stand with the West. We will not provide weapons systems. We have asked the Ukrainians to share information regarding their needs and have offered to assist in developing a life-saving, early-warning system.”
"Our policy vis-a-vis Ukraine will not change - we will continue to support and stand with the West, we will not provide weapon systems. We have asked the Ukrainians to share information regarding their needs, and offered to assist in developing a life-saving early-warning system,”Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz
Gantz made the comments in a briefing to EU member-state ambassadors in Israel.
Jerusalem has sent a request to Kyiv to share information about the country’s needs for air-defense alerts, he said, and “we will be able to assist in the development of a life-saving, civilian early-warning system.”
But due to “limitations” and “a variety of operational considerations,” Israel would not deliver any weapons systems to Ukraine, he said.
Gantz made the comments after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday said Ukraine would ask Israel for air-defense systems. A letter to Israel’s Foreign Ministry specified that Kyiv is interested in the Iron Beam, Barak-8, Patriot, Iron Dome, David’s Sling or Arrow Interceptor systems and support in training for the Ukrainian operators.
“If Israel’s policy is really to consistently counter Iran's destructive actions, then it is time for Israel to openly side with Ukraine," Kuleba said.
"If Israel's policy is really to consistently counter Iran's destructive actions, then it is time for Israel to openly side with Ukraine."Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba
On Wednesday evening, after reports that Gantz had canceled a planned call on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, the Defense Ministry said the call would take place on Thursday.
Israel has refused to provide any military platforms to Ukraine over concerns it might negatively affect the deconfliction mechanism that Israel and Russia have in Syria, which is designed to avoid conflict.
“Israel supports and stands with Ukraine, NATO and the West,” Gantz said. “This is something we have said in the past and repeat today. Israel has a policy of supporting Ukraine via humanitarian aid and the delivery of life-saving defensive equipment. I plan to review and approve an additional package, as we have delivered to them in the past.”
Speaking later at the Institute for National Security Studies, Gantz said Israel was checking on a biweekly basis what it could provide Ukraine.
“We have our own interests, and we have to share our airspace in the North with Russia,” he said. “On the one hand, we are with the Ukrainians, and we are providing as much support that is not offensive as is possible. We asked them to provide us with data to assist them in building a real-time alert system. They still haven’t done that.”
Israel was also continuing to learn from the war, Gantz told Maj.-Gen. (res.) Tamir Hayman.
“Iran and Russia are getting closer as a result of the war in Ukraine, and we are preparing for any scenario in this regard,” he said. “We are continuing to monitor the effects of the war on our region, and we are conducting ourselves in a way that preserves our freedom of operation.”
“When I see that Russia has to get weapons from Iran to strike Ukraine, I have to rub my eyes,” he added. “When you see the number of casualties Russia has suffered... in not a small way, Russia’s real strength has been exposed to the world.”
“I want to make it clear that we are not selling weapons to Ukraine,” Gantz told Radio Kol Chai on Tuesday. “I am the defense minister, and I am responsible for the export of Israeli weapons.”
Israel's view of Iran's involvement in the Russian war in Ukraine
Following the use of Iranian-made drones by Russia to target civilian infrastructure, Israel has been pressured by Ukraine to provide it with weapons systems or air-defense systems.
Gantz confirmed that Jerusalem was following Iran’s involvement in the war in Ukraine, despite Tehran’s denial in providing Moscow with Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones.
“We see that Iran provides UAVs and may also provide additional advanced systems in the near future,” he said. “The Iranians lie methodically about selling this equipment,” and “this same kind of involvement takes place across the Middle East.”